September 14th, 2017
Our time in Aotearoa came to an end on Thursday evening at Uncle’s Man Malaysia restaurant where we had out last community dinner. The day started off with goodbyes to Hairini Marae as we left to pile into our last long bus ride.
We stopped in town for quick breakfast and a farewell to the pier, the never opened stores, and the library with free wifi. Four lovely hours later, in Auckland, all us students made our way to the hostel where we would spend our last night in bunk beds with each other.
At 6pm, Kiwi time, we sat down for a dinner Professor Josh had been eagerly waiting for. We laughed at inside jokes as we enjoyed the delicious food of our last meal as a group. We wrapped up the evening with a much-deserved Koha (gift) to both Josh and Chris for all that they had put into the program. Us students couldn’t be more grateful for all their hard work. A third Koha was given to Raquel West in appreciation for leading us in song during every Pōwhiri. Showing her love, Racquel gifted the group back with friendship bracelets, it was utterly clear that we were no longer just peers. Everyone was merry and a bit nostalgic as we parted ways after dinner, forever weaved together from our time in Aotearoa.
Words cannot fully showcase the appreciation of the group for all the hospitality, adventures and knowledge learned on this trip. The numerous people we’ve had the pleasure of meeting have completely made the program. The places we visited stained our minds with incredible views and histories. The way Maori peoples are continuing to proudly live out their culture in various ways was beautiful to encounter. Thanks to everyone, we have left Aotearoa with our thoughts bombing, horizons expanded and memories full.
– Birdie Harvey