Wednesday, April 7, 2010

School Time in Gisborne

After you've spent a couple of days driving around the North Island's East Cape, stopping at the dozens and dozens of marae you pass along the way, you begin to feel like you're in another world - and in a way you are....a Maori world for sure. East Cape's population has always been predominantly Maori and it it is still perhaps, New Zealand's richest area for seeing Maori culture within a 'real' (as opposed to tourism) context.

So after throwing yourself wholeheartedly into that mix for a couple of days, entering the region's largest town, Gisborne, is like driving into a contemporary one level at least. For there's no doubt that Gisborne is the main centre in this part of the world and the population is still predominantly Maori. Here though, you see Maori design with a more contemporary influence - the graffiti, the murals, the contemporary carvings. I had hardly entered the town boundary when I slammed on my brakes outside Kaiti Primary School to photograph a whole line of colourful murals that ran the length of a walkway beside the school. I didn't linger too long because I was also opposite the Kaiti Community Police Centre and a uniformed member of staff seemed to be keeping an eye on my activities from the window - not that I was doing anything wrong of course, but some people do seem to get a bit fidgety when they see you brandishing a camera. In a way though, murals like these sum up my lasting impressions of Gisborne - sure it's remote and sure it's not exactly 'fashionable and trendy' but its colourful and completely unique; and its inhabitants seem to be almost encouraged to embellish the town with interesting artistic expressions. I like that about a place.

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