Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Photo of the Day: Waitangi Day and the Maori-Greek Connection

Flashback to 2003...

Evangelos Venizelos,  as Minister of CultureHongis with a Maori Performer of Moana and the Band, at one of the group's performances in Greece for the Cultural Olympiad, in the lead up to the Athens Olympic Games in 2004

The photo is taken from the front cover of Nemecis Magazine at the time

The Hongi is the traditional Maori greeting in New Zealand and is done by pressing noses together. During the Hongi the breath of life is exchanged and the visitor is welcomed as one of the people and no longer a stranger

Wikipedia says the following: When Māori greet one another by pressing noses, the tradition of sharing the breath of life is considered to have come directly from the gods.In Māori fo lklore, woman was created by the gods moulding her shape out of the earth. The god Tāne (meaning male) embraced the figure and breathed into her nostrils. She then sneezed and came to life. Her name was Hineahuone (earth formed woman).
Today is February 6  and the day that the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi is commemorated in New Zealand - the signing of a Treaty passing 'ownership' of Aotearoa ' The land of the Long White Cloud' as the native Maori called New Zealand to the representatives of the British Crown. 

Even though it is the subject of much heated debate, the Treaty of Waitangi is considered as the founding document of New Zealand as a nation, and for that reason it was called New Zealand Day and is a National Holiday. You can read more about the Treaty of Waitangi at Griwis - the New Zealanders in Greece Blog

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the identity of the first people to arrive in New Zealand, with the publication of a book by Noel Hilliam who believes that in fact evidence found in New Zealand suggests the Greeks got to New Zealand first.

I had read Hilliam's findings and then, strangely enough, some months ago, as we were sorting through some old furniture in an Athenian apartment, I discovered a yellowing newspaper in an old trunk that was being thrown out. It was French and my eye fell on a heading which read Mysterious Discovery in New Zealand... The article pictured below,  goes on to describe wall carvings which bore a remarkable resemblance to  the Ancient Greek and Egyptian Galleys...

The Newspaper was  Le Matin and the date of the newspaper, 10 January 1926, nearly 90 years ago!!!

We don't know what the truth is but if our noble ancestors did get there first - imagine if Alexander the Great was among them - it wouldn't surprise us at all. There is a remarkable feeling of kindred spirit among the Maori people and the Greek people. Apart from the extensive use of vowel sounds in both our languages, our two peoples have a lot in common: the joy of living life to the full, the strong sense of family, the respect for the dead, the mythology with Gods taking a central role in creation are just a few of the similarities...

Food for thought? We think so!

Happy Waitangi Day! 

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