In the Maori language, “Kia Ora” means “Hello,” “Welcome,” and “Thank You.”

This is Polynesia, friends. The largest city in Polynesia, but it’s still Polynesia. Just look at the trees. How many times do you think I can work “Polynesia” into this caption? Polynesia.

There is so much to this country. For example, skiing is abundant in the winter. You could head to Whakapapa, which is pronounced “Fuck-a-Papa.” No, sadly, I’m not kidding. It’s the largest place to ski here in New Zealand. On the other hand, you could head to Devonport, which is pronounced “Devonport.” Yes, happily, I’m not kidding. It’s a nice little fishing village just north (by ferry) from Auckland. On still another hand (I hereby grant you three hands), you could head to the Auckland Museum to see a Maori Cultural Performance.

In Auckland, the choices are [nearly] limitless.

All of these options were presented by my bus driver who hails from Yorkshire. That’s England, my friends. His cockney accent was so thick that, at times, it became difficult to understand him. I did learn some valuable new phrases, though:

  • “Flutter on the gigis.” Bet on the horses.
  • “One armed weight lifting.” Drink alcohol.
  • “Cheap as chips.” Quite inexpensive.
  • “The wevah’s turnin’ to custard.” The weather is becoming unpleasant.
  • “A tickle of sherry.” A small drink of alcohol.

Out of the many pleasant options he presented, I chose to pursue the Maori Cultural Performance at the Auckland Museum. It was a brilliant choice, if I do say so myself. The Maori performers demonstrated the games their ancestors played to build strength for their weapons. For example, they juggled three foot long sticks and engaged in mock fighting.

They sang some of their “Action Songs,” which were songs combined with hand motions to illustrate the life force that guides them all. They shared chants and — most interestingly — the Haka, which is their war dance. The Haka, if done correctly, could intimidate enemies to such an extent that battle would be diverted altogether.

This is not the Haka, but another dance. It was truly one of the most impressive things I’ve seen on this trip.

By the way, the Auckland Museum provided more information about the Boer War than you get in South Africa (where it was fought). You can also learn more about WWI than in the USA. Naturally, they tell more about WWII than the Danes. That tells you a lot, doesn’t it?

At the end of the day, I had dinner at — you could have probably predicted this — the Teppanyaki place in my hotel. I joined an office party of non-practicing lawyers who now work for a professional liability firm. I felt at home.

Off to bed. I wake up tomorrow at about 5:30 to take a tour of some caves. Hope it’s “Lovely Jubbly, Onwards and Upwards,” as the cockney bus driver described nice things earlier today.

Here’s hoping I make it through the night! There are plenty of volcanos in the area. This is the youngest and largest, Rangitoto. It’s less than 1,000 years old, only appeared above the ocean 700 years ago, and is a few short miles from my bed.