It’s a question I get asked a lot when I’m rocking my gear. Are you Maori? Is that traditional Maori gear? Is it Maori at all? The short answer is yes.
I am of Maori heritage, and I’ve used a lot of traditional Maori techniques in making my gear. This just makes sense: I live in New Zealand, and flax is everywhere!
It seems smart to use the skills and resources of a people who have lived in this country for so long.
However, my only goal with using these techniques is to make as much of my own stuff as possible. I never meant for this pesky traditional term to keep coming up! Walking New Zealand is hard enough without restricting myself to only using traditional techniques and materials.
I did think about it, though. The first conception of this walk was to try to travel the way pre-colonial Maori did. However, I found out very quickly that a single person hiking for the sake of it wasn’t really a thing in times past. Also, I haven’t been raised to run around half naked in the bush! I’m just not tough enough….yet.
This whole journey so far has been an eye opening experience for what life was like (sort of) for my Maori ancestors. I would say it was hard work, but it is hard work living nowadays anyway. It’s more like a different kind of hard work. It’s the kind I get a kick out of.
In the past two years I have learnt that a person on their own will have a hard time in the bush. You will always be restricted by resources and time: Land ownership and seasonal weather being the most obvious examples of this. A supportive community is the strongest asset to being able to pull something like this off.
Community is the backbone of Maori culture. Between the internet, my know-it-all friends, and an extensive Maori family I’ve got community by the truck load.
It could also be said that because I am of Maori heritage, anything I do is inherently Maori. So I think I’ll leave the line drawing to someone else, while I get on with the walking.
With that, this is my last blog before the big day. September 1st will be a final gear list before I set out. I will be keeping up with these monthly posts (at least!) to keep everyone in the loop, and I have a twitter (@journey_of_jory) for all my lovely pictures I’m going to take and there is a chance I could start a you tube channel maybe.
So if you do see a crazy looking flax man feel free to say hello.