On the Northern end of the Marine Parade is a famous statue called the Pania of the Reef. The beautiful bronze statue was erected in 1954 and has become one of the most photographed in New Zealand. Pania was a Beautiful Maiden of the Sea according to Maori Mythology.
Leyenda de Pania , la hermosa doncella de la gente del mar y Karitoki su amante Maorí .
Hispania era una mujer del mar y un día conoció a un hombre de la tierra, con quien se casó.
Pania vivía con su esposo en una casa Whare en un lugar ahora conocido como Sturm Gully, cerca del dique de Napier.
Pero la gente del mar siempre la llamaba. Ella se resistió a su llamado durante mucho tiempo, pero la atracción de la gente del mar se hizo irresistible y nadó a su encuentro sólo una vez.
La gente del mar salió de las profundidades , la rodearon y la llevaron hacia en las cavernas del fondo del mar, para no regresar nunca más a la tierra de los mortales.
Y ahora, si pasas por encima del arrecife , verás a Pania con los brazos abiertos, esforzándose siempre en volver con su amante que perdió aquel fatídico día
Pania legend , the beautiful maiden of the sea people and Karitoki and her handsome Maori lover.
Pania was a woman of the sea and one day she met a man of the land, whom she married.
Pania lived with her husband in a whare (house) at a spot now known as Sturm's Gully, near the foot of the Napier breakwater.
But the sea people were forever calling her. She resisted their call for a long time, but the lure of the sea people became irresistible and she swam out to meet them, just once.
The sea people came from the depths and surrounded her, they drew her down into the caverns of the sea, never to return to the land of mortals.
And now, if you pass over the reef where the kingfish shoal and gaze in to the depths, you will see Pania with arms outstretched, ever striving to return to the lover she left on that fateful day.
Even as teenagers, these guys could sure do a very scary Haka (Maori war dance). It was very obvious that they absolutely loved what they did. It seemed to come as second nature to them, which seems very different to me, when I think of Australia's indigenous peoples, many of whom lost touch with their traditions through contact with early oppression and white society and had to try and re-learn and regain their culture as adults....wherever I went, from what I saw, this doesn't seem to be a problem in New Zealand. In the North Island, Maori culture is alive and very well.
There was a rather large crowd gathered in front of the truck to see the teenage group's performance, including many support students from their own school, which was about 100 kms. That to them is a very long way, and Maori and Paheka (whites) alike were obviously very honoured to have the group at their Waitangi day celebrations. Local member of parliament for the area was also present, and spoke and welcomed the group.
Napier seems to have quite a strong Maori presence, and their culture was probably more evident to us when we were there because it was the Waitangi Day public holiday and cultural activities had been organised at the Napier Marina (which just happened to be 500 mts from our hotel). We came upon the large town gathering quite by chance, which was great.
Among all the people gathered, the population seemed to be almost 40% maori, which is a huge percentage when in some other cities their numbers are only around 10% .
I think more had gathered on this particular holiday too, to watch the Maori music, dance and cultural show which was being put on from the back of a truck.
In New Zealand, many schools have groups of
Maori who belong to musical/dance groups, and which perform. There are inter-school competitions and it seems to be a huge honour to be the winning school. The community speakers at the microphone were very pleased to have these particular secondary school aged performers at their celebrations, who were the winning School of the competitions (not sure if it was for the whole of NZ or just the North Island) They were easily as good as some of their their adult counterpart performers we'd watched in Rotorua.
It is common in all of New Zealand that during the school day the children get outside for some form of recreation, this seemed to be especially true when I was in Napier for a week. The same class of school children spent time outside playing teeball or going on hikes during the school hours.
It was quite refreshing to see them enjoying themselves and relieved a lot of the travel stress I was experiencing at the time. My worries of money and transportation vanished for a few hours as I watched them play the American sport of teeball.
No one had any genuine knowledge of the game and this made it much better and quite a bit more relaxing. I've always had a love for children and the laughs and smiles this day warmed my heart while I sat alone under a shade tree catching the sea breeze from the Pacific that lay only 50 meters away.
These teenage boys and girls had absolutely wonderful singing voices, with great harmonies. They barely needed any guitar accompaniment at all. Very impressive indeed.