Many of these are publicly accessible - given over to the Department of Conservation in a misguided belief that they would be cherished and honoured. Unfortunately, guardianship of sacred places is not high on their agenda and it is our belief that these should be returned to Maori for protection from crowds and disrespectful behaviour.
On the other side, many holy places remain in private (Maori) hands. We have some connections with some of these. Typically, they are always accessible to the true seeker on a spiritual mission while avoiding mass tourist hiking boots, selfie shots, and ignorance. A bit like holy places in other countries.
But the places are only part of the story. There is a much repeated Maori proverb, "What are the three most important things in life?"...... "the people, the people, the people" So the people here are a big part of the story. And it's a fact that every marae that you will see when travelling through the country is a holy place, a living place of values, ancestry, social issues, laughter ... and death, which for Maori is a part of life.
The people....as you will have gathered by now, we are big fans of Maori culture and Maori people. Holy people are no different, except that they are even more welcoming of foreigners, understanding that spirituality knows no national, cultural or ethnic boundaries. In fact, some of the guardians of sacred Maori knowledge are not Maori. But they all share a deep respect for Maori values and spirituality.
So, what would a spiritual journey around New Zealand entail? Well firstly, in the same way as all our planning, some in-depth conversations in order to understand you and what you are after. And then a number of possible mixes of places and people throughout the country. Sitting here I can think of:
- several beautiful public sites which I will not mention here
- holy mountain Titiraupenga, where Delani Brown welcomes our clients. People need to be properly welcomed
- a lovely healing marae in the Far North which gave us permission to use our name
- a gentle spiritual healer near Rotorua
- a US-born guru in the Abel Tasman
- a lady who speaks to birds in the Marlborough Sounds
And a few other places which I cannot mention. These are typically asked for by a spiritual seeker, and the asking helps open the door.
The Maori term for spiritual energy is wairua. Literally, the second water, as energy flows like water.
Maori carvings hold knowledge, beauty and wairua. This is why Maori are so respectful around them, they are alive.
The meeting house on a marae is a holy place and understood to hold the spirits of the ancestors, the living and the yet to be born. Be careful what you promise on a marae as you will be held to it by all sorts of powers.