Maori exchange students put on a show as they get off the Alert Bay ferry.

Fresh off the boat — when cultures meet

ALERT BAY—Alert Bay was blessed with an incredible group of Maori exchange students recently thanks to organizer Massoud Moslehi and Jamie Hunt.

ALERT BAY—Alert Bay was blessed with an incredible group of Maori exchange students recently thanks to organizer Massoud Moslehi and Jamie Hunt.

The students from New Zealand’s James Cook School arrived on the 6 p.m.  July 23 ferry when the Namgis First Nation welcomed the Maori at the ferry with dance, drumming and song while dressed in colourful West Coast traditional regalia.

The ferry dock instantly became an open air stage for two nations meeting.

The males from the Maori troupe literally moved off the Quadra Queen carrying spears and other traditional Maori weapons.

Their movements were slow, shifting and respectful as the warriors moved off the ferry onto Namgis land.

Their dance was one of clearing spirits and communicating to spirit guardians that they are here. Their sounds were animistic and guttural “whoops” and “squawks.”

The Namgis responded to the Maori greeting with Ernest Alfred dancing the Hamt’sa to demonstrate the Namgis have a strong spiritual being to greet the Maori.

The combined dance troupes, the T’sasala and Gwawina, did the welcome dance in response.

Two men, Chief Bill Cranmer and cultural teacher George Pomana slowly and respectfully approached each other with welcoming words and then shook hands. John Brandon, principle of the James Cook School also spoke at this time and shook hands with Cranmer.

The full troupe of Maori women and men sang together.

Their well-trained voices were powerful.

It was a wonderful sound and a heartfelt moment for all present.

This marked the beginning of friendship and student exchange.

The purpose of the Maori exchange – The Maori call this exchange “hikoi” translated means “walk.”

This exchange is a journey of growth and development.

There were 37 students and 13 chaperones made up of parents and teachers. They had two main performances and presentations; one at the Music Fest on the Bay and the second at the Big House.

They performed at the Music Fest dressed in their native regalia.

The big house was jam-packed with family and friends.

The evening began with a superb pot-luck supper followed by Namgis traditional dancing, drumming and singing.

When the James Cook School students were given the floor their principle John Brandon and cultural teacher George Pomana thanked the Namgis for their generosity in English and then in the Maori native tongue.

Then the Maori performed various dances and the melodic vocals filled the Big House.

After both nations finished it was time for gift-giving.

The James Cook School presented Chief Bill Cranmer with traditional Maori weapons.

The Namgis gave the Maori a special canoe paddle by Fort Rupert artist Ross Hunt and 100 T-shirts designed by William Wasden Jr. that had the following wording: Maya’xalapa – “to exchange respect” in Maori – ‘Namgis cultural exchange 2011.”

The Maori warmed many a heart while they were in Alert Bay and the Namgis warmed many a Maori heart.

A few students expressed their appreciation for the Namgis and they truly did not want to go home.

While in Alert Bay they visited the U’mista Cultural Centre.

They were open to meet and greet everyone they might happen to bump into.

Many hands came together to billet, feed and care for them while on island.  The Maori youth left Alert Bay July 26 while the Namgis drummed and sang special songs of friendship and goodbye.

The Maori reciprocated with ceremonious farewell and gift-giving.

As they departed three male warriors danced and moved back onto the ferry as skillfully and meaningful as when they arrived.

 

 

Just Posted

Long receives Highest Academic Achievement Award

RDMW staffer commended for his achievements in Local Government Administration Program

Woss to get a new library

VIRL is planning on building a 1,400 sq.ft prefabricated facility

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

Mount Waddington Transit System celebrates 10th birthday

Mount Waddington buses to participate in summer festivals

Island wide crime spree leads to multiple charges against Cowichan Valley resident

Social Media and citizens of the North Island played a big role in solving the case.

VIDEO: Trudeau shuffles familiar faces, adds new ones to expanded cabinet

Justin Trudeau shuffles his front bench Wednesday to install the roster of ministers that will be entrusted with leading the Liberal team into next year’s election.

Wildfires erupt in B.C. Okanagan forcing evacuation orders and a highway closure

Check out a list of up-to-date information on blazes happening within the Kamloops Wildfire Centre.

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

Grizzly bear jumps in river, chases B.C. kayaker

The bear got a bit too close for comfort along the Elaho River near Squamish

Island man convicted of 1999 sex assault at Fraser Valley music festival

James Allen Redden, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty of three charges

Parks Canada looks to shine light on cloudy future for historic sites

A plan is in place to produce 10-year plans designed to turn around sagging attendance figures

B.C. poet shines a bright light on struggle with homelessness

Book launch for John La Greca’s Homeless Memorial is at Vernon’s Gallery Vertigo July 21.

Ontario police say attack on Muslim man was motivated by hate

Two men, aged 27 and 19, have been charged with assault in the incident

Canadian Tire delivers toys to ease kids’ street play pain in B.C. neighbourhood

It’s like Christmas for 11 kids who are supposed to be confined to their yards by strata bylaw

Most Read