Starting study – New Zealand

How it started/Why travel

Ondrej :

I have studied at couple of universities. At one of them I was involved in studies of philosophical discipline concerning religions. I was interested in religious wisdom of the world and how different cultures speak about God and spirit. But soon I have found out that the teachers of that university seem to be too busy with the school management rather then with valuable researches and that they are more interested in the form of certain terms rather then in their containments.

I was not able to learn much about religions themselves there so I left those studies and focused on the subject of Social/Cultural Anthropology that I was studying at different university simultaneously. It appeared to me as a wider discipline putting light on various social and cultural structures, religions included.

Anthropology was highly attractive for me. I thought of it those days as about kind of a kingly discipline among sciences. Concerning the name itself, “Anthropology” , which basically means “the word(or knowledge) about human” I expected myself to get theoretically involved in all human activities and products including religion, art and even science itself. I had an image that through this discipline I could actually touch the knowledge of all disciplines. However after couple of years of studying Anthropology it seemed to me that my teachers are again more concerned about the science itself rather then its subjects and the studies started to look far too much theoretical loosing the connection with reality. So despite success and even certain popularity I reached there as a keen student as well as an artist I left the Department of Anthropology. I failed in last exam because I was stressing the need of the practicality missing in the discipline.

At the same time I was studying Environmental studies at different department of the same university. It was simply for my constant interest in nature and in less harmful ways of living which would be alternative to the consume mainstream. I was average student but I grew in popularity after I gave some concerts and performances during some university’s events. Soon even my books about Japan and Min Tanaka were offered for sell in the office of the department and I became friendly with the collective of teachers.

But things got worse after I started working on my last thesis. I wrote about Min Tanaka and about dance as a method of studying the nature which can be alternative and in some ways more appropriate than intellect and language.

I criticized the dominance of intellectual approach in studies of nature in general during my last speech and that time I was sharply refused by the academic circle. Refused and not understood. So towards the end of my speech I grew in temper and I jumped on the table dancing in order to present what the dance, nature and the true knowledge about it fundamentally means to me. Of course it caused a little scandal. But I didn’t try to find out more about the effects of my instant action and straight after I left the university without graduating it.

I spent four years at that university while last two years I was simultaneously studying another one. It was a prestigious art academy with the subject of clowning and nonverbal acting. I was kind of favorite student of the leader and main teacher of the department so the studies went smoothly. But after a year I started witnessing that rather then my talent and art skills it is my ego and self importance that is being grown there. I started to feel like an animal on a farm being bred for the commercial world of artificial art. And again it seemed to me that at this school the art world itself and the form of an art piece was gaining more attention than it’s containments, the message of the art. I felt that by going deeper into that artificial world I would actually loose the contact with the rest of the real world and I wouldn’t be able to transmit to people any meaningful message through my art. So I left the academy after two years and started to think how to carry on my studies without being connected to educational institutions.

I was still interested in culture, i was still interested in art. I was still interested in nature and spirit and, dominantly, I was still interested in a human being that contains it all. I was thinking which way I should go to become a real anthropologist – someone who speaks about human. I felt I need to study much more to become someone like that. And I knew that the best way of such a study is straight experience rather then a mere theory. So I started to travel because I considered traveling the best school for studying myself-the closest human being I live with, as well as for studying other peoples and world at all.

I left Czech Republic in March 2010 as a new full time student of the world university. My subject was human being: his body-nature, his mind-culture and his spirit-the core of religions. And my researching method was simple: to get as close as possible to the nature, culture and religion of people of certain region and through my own adjusting existence try to experience what it means to be a human in general. I wanted to experience it from many different angles and in various shapes to ensure that the study will be rich and the gained knowledge will be as close to the truth as possible. So I went to many different communities and environments, tried my best to become a part of them for certain period of time and then left for another. I kept doing that for next four years.

But I have to say that apart from the study of a human being there was one more goal for that travel: to understand better and put in different cultural and religious contexts the fundamental experience of Self that I went through during the workshop of Min Tanaka. I wanted to get language and develop forms of expression which could help me to describe that experience to myself and to other people as well. I felt it is important to be able to share this experience with others.

So these were my goals and these I kept in mind for all four years of moving from place to place in three different continents.

 

Fukiko:

From 2010 it has been 5 years since I have finished my last study and since I have been on the road.

I have been traveling around the world and yet I haven’t gone to many places I desire to.

I said I finished my last study, but it is not exatly true.

That’s why I am writing this essay.

Since 8 years old I learned dancing…many different techniques of dancing, different styles of dancing, stage effects like lighting, sound, costume, and scenography, and other dimension of art like acting and singing, visual art, drawing e.t.c.

I learned in dancing studio, I learned at high school, at university, and finaly at one of the most awarded academy of contemporary dance art on earth p.a.r.t.s.

At the end of two years of concentrated study and self research, I decided to leave the academic carrier and to go traveling.

I made many absenceS towards the end of my study…That is why p.a.r.t.s. offered me to do the writing task in order to sign my certification.

So I am writing after 5 years…but this is not only the reason why I want to do it now.

After 5 years of traveling, finally I have something to write, to share with people.

Now I live life without dependence on money and electricity which I concern as harmonius way of living thanks to it’s ecologic aspects and freedom…Yes, I found it is very important for me, the freedom.

The life I live to live, not to eat or to earn or to exchange time for something elsebut to fully experience the now at present moment, to become time. That is the reason I chose to live this way.I want finally live the real life.

It is still not conplete, but at least I now feel the life nesting inside of me more often than 5 years ago.

I experienced hunger, the border of life and death, emotions which overtook controle of my body, I experienced grace of nature, I met God, I experienced birth…

 

New Zealand

Ondrej:

Departing Czech Republic in 2010 I first went to New Zealand. My main aim for that country, apart from creating some financial resources, was to study about Maori culture and to experience the strength and depth of the New Zealands nature.

After I managed all necessary bureaucracies in Auckland I first went to Coromandel peninsula to spent two weeks in local forests to adjust to new environment. And then I headed to east coast of North Island where I started to search for job as well as for first contacts with Maoris. Soon I enjoyed my first little successes in the town of Hastings.

I stayed on a Maori owned beach where I lived in a small hut with a guy who I met at work in apple orchard. He was a member of a local tribe, Ngati Kahangungu, and he presented himself as a descendant of lineage of tribe’s shamans called “tuhunga” in Maori language. Through him I got involved in some tribal activities like traditional way of plating the flax leaves harakekeor practicing some hakawar dances.

However after about a month our personal relationship with that guy got a bit worse and I left the beach. But I stayed in contact with other local Maoris.

From these people I first time heard about a living legend of contemporary Maori world – a provoker and fighter for Maori rights called Tame Iti. I also heard a lot of respectful talks about his tribe Tuhoe which is known for its strong resistance against colonial powers of western world and for it’s work on preserving and keeping alive the original Maori values.

I didn’t waste my time much and as soon as my job in orchard was finished I headed to Te Urewera National Park – the homeland of the Ngati Tuhoe tribe. I went through many contacts and I started to work as volunteer at The Department Of Conservation to get in touch with local Maoris. I talked to some elders of the tribe and eventually I was introduced to a traditional Tuhoe carver living a bit deeper in the mountains. We had obvious age and cultural distance from each other but after we played some drums together he agreed to accept me to stay at his place for more than three weeks.

I was studying how to carve and how to play traditional Maori instruments. I touched the basics of work with the wooden weapon Taiahaand the carver let me enter some fundamentals of Tuhoe way of living and thinking. And through him I also met his friend: Tame Iti, the “living legend”.

Tame straight invited us to his place in Tuhoe’s political center Ruatoki and we gladly accepted. We then stayed in Ruatoki for another three weeks. We witnessed Tame’s life as elder of his tribe and as traditional dancer, we helped him with his house building works and we participated in some activities concerning the re-educating Tuhoe’s youth in Maori way.

We shared days together and one day it happened that after watching me during my morning dance practice Tame told me: “Watching your feet I see you are close to Papatuanuku, Earth Mother. For that I am giving you a Maori name Te Oneone (The Soil).”

Later he also gave the name Te Marama(Moon [Beam]) to Fukiko as to somebody who reflects the light of others.

We did many private dance-music performances (Tadysho) for Tame while he acted as our director and critic, teaching us how to provoke emotions of an audience and how to wake up the inner power of a human individual. And at the end of our stay we did a music-dance performance together with him at the communal sacred place or Maraein the area of the god of war Tu-Mata-Uenga.

After that we travelled all around New Zealand, staying in nature, working in farms and orchards and keeping to gather experiences and knowledge about Maori culture as well as about self-sufficient way of living practiced by many countryside citizens. We met many knowledgeable individuals and learned a lot from farmers and hunters as well as from Maori people of various tribes.

 

Fukiko:

When I was in New Zealand, my partner brought me to one Maori carver in the mountains. He lived there all alone, sometimes having some visits of relatives.

The carver was making many traditional crafts like jewellies and gate statues at his workshop. It was clear for me that he was nice person, though from outside look his body was full of carving experiments. As he sais, Maori carves everything…wood, stone, bones, even people. It’s called “Moko”. Moko in Maori language can not be translated simply into english “tatoo”, because of it’s use and meaning, although some elements of tatoo and Moko has some similarities.

Apart from face where he had only small carving on the both sides of his nose, whole his body was full of those traditional tatoos.

You cannot imagine from his stern look, he was good story teller as well.

Day by day, as we spent time together, he leaked some of precious Maori legends and myths with his entertaining way of telling stories.

Through those stories, little by little, we learned about Maori.

They didn’t have written language, so they used to carve the important informations into stone, wood and bodies and told stories mouth to ear. They carried long tradition of whakapapa, the geneology. It sais from which mountain and river your parents were from, where your name comes from, and the same for your grand parents and great grand parents and great great grand parents…and so on.

One night watching stars the carver said:

“I can tell my whakapapa further, and further, then I can come to that star over there.”

I simply admire this knowledge of whakapapa.

For me a star is a Kami. Kami means “god” in Japanese. We have thousands of Kami in Japan. The Kami of tree, the Kami of lightning, the Kami of stone, the Kami of a water spring, the Kami of smoke and the Kami of walking path…(Kaidou)

So for me knowing that Maori are descendent of a star means that they know they are descendant of a god. I admire this(even without Japanese conotation of god). The life must be quite different if I know I can count back my ancestors untill a star. In such an existence I would feel secure…

Today, thinking of what he said make me understand how the Maori people used to be courageus and fearless.

Knowing that they are a descendent of a star, a god, I imagine they had very different concept about death than many of us have nowadays.

It would be much easier to imagine myself dying if I knew that I am a decendant of Gods…I imagine a star I am just looking at now in the dark sky as my ancester…He is still there shinning…I imagine the texture of his surface, his temperature, his view…I imagine what he is seeing there…And I come back to myself here knowing that all the materials which created him has same source as all those of mine…

Another very important saying I got was from another Maori man.

He is a living legend of the tribe Tuhoe, which is the only one in whole New Zealand (or AOTEAROA in Maori language) that didn’t sign a treaty with British gavernment.Atreaty to finish the war between them and make friendship. A treaty that is viewed as a cheating trick by many and which caused a lot of land and culture loss to Maoris. It is called the Treaty of Waitangi.

Anyways from all the tribes in New Zealand, Tuhoe tribe is said to be the only tribe that didn’t sign the Treaty.

Tame Iti was his name – the legendary man we met. He is also famous as “terrorist”. He was arrested many times thanks to his activist’s nature.

He is active by nature I suppose, and also he is a real artist to me. His life is on stage. He knows he is on stage now, and he will leave it one day. He is a dancer, painter, great cook as well, and he is also a spokeman of his tribe. That means he is the face of Tuhoe tribe. He is also elder of his tribe which means that in funerals, in marriages and generally in any important occations he is one of the person who gives speech as his tribe’s representative.

My partner and I exchanged several dance and music performances with him, he taught us his movements and he brought us to some tribal ceremonies.

And there was a sentence I learned from him which has stucked in my head until today. I cannot recall the situation when he said it, but I remember the sentence well. It was exactly this:

“I can accept it, but I don’t need to agree with it.”

In that time, having difficulty with relationships, it was this sentence which nurished my patience.

That time I was not yet realizing the different realities existing at the same time on this earth, and I was not fully realising the fact that spending time together with somebody does not necessarily means having same experiences. This was the sentence which kept me open to the world.

During our travel we were meeting many different people of various lifestyles, religions, thinking and behaving. And we were sharing time and space with them. And I kept searching with wich attitude and identity of mine I should face them. If I kept only my Japanese me, or English speaking me, then I think it would be impossible to absorbe the differences in each visit on my paths. Because Japanese me is like a jellyfish which changes the shape according to it’s environment. And if there is only English speaking me, then this is very conservative identity of mine, which never wants to accept any advice from anyone who thinks he knows everything.

So for both of my identities, it was very useful to tell that I don’t need to agree but I can accept the different realities. I can let the other person be as he/she is but at the same time I don’t need to agree with him/her. I didn’t need to agree with the ignorance and polution in the cities of India, but I could simply accept it as different reality existing in front of my eyes and accept the fact that this reality is fine for some people.

 

 

 

 

Harakeke waving Laughing Horse Ancient forest of Aotearoa Laughing Horse Putorino Maori music New Zealand's wild nature