So why is Auckland so interesting (at least to me)? It’s the biggest city in New Zealand, with a population of about 1.5 million people. More Pacific Islanders live in Auckland than live in the Pacific Islands. There is, of course, the Maori population (not as big as, perhaps, a few hundred years ago, but still there.) Add to this heaps of Asian students undertaking English or tertiary-level studies and you’ve got a very Asian-Pacific city. It’s also, to the rest of New Zealand, the most hated city in NZ. The way New York is the center of the universe to New Yorkers, Aucklanders (purportedly) are out of touch/ don’t care about the rest of the country. We didn’t spend enough time there to crack that nut, but I for one will stand solidly in the pro-Auckland camp. The climate’s nice, the population’s diverse, and there are heaps of events going on.
We spent today at the Auckland Musuem (who suggest a $10 donation per adult, but really force you into paying it) investigating NZ’s history. Naturally there was a very large section on Maori and Pacific Islander culture (mostly, if not exclusively pre-European contact.) The Maori section included a reconstructed marae or meetinghouse. It was stunning. Bob was enthralled and spent about 10 minutes studying the woodcarvings.