Our last time with the villagers from Nawaka was to be an evening meal,a feast cooked in an under the ground oven. So back at the hotel we changed for dinner and took our camera and some gifts in our daypack. Two minibus shuttles saw the whole group back at the village. We came on the second trip. On arrival we were presented with a sulu and flowers draped around our neck – just beautiful.
Dinner had barely begun when the sound of drums beating and singing also started. A group of men and women in traditional dress were performing in the open space in front of the house. We had been warned there would be entertainment and that during the entertainment it would be appropriate to give gifts. We just hadn’t expected it to start so soon! So several songs, musical items and dances were performed. It was a fantastic spectacle and I made sure I was in a good position to take photos and video footage. At the end of one dance by the men I came in for a real surprise as one of the men lunged at me with his spear. This made everyone laugh! During a couple of the songs the women in our group made a presentation of a gift of a number of large pieces of material for their women to use in the future sewing projects. During one item members of the ensemble randomly picked partners from our group to join in the dance, to much mirth. It was a lot of fun and a real highlight. Apparently this group from Nawaka are touring in Australia next month.
Once the performance was concluded we went back to eating and talking. A real feature of the setting was the display of all the sewing, knitting, embroidery and crochet items the village ladies had made. They were clearly proud of their efforts.
Later in the evening I was one of several men from our group invited to join the village men sitting on the verandah of the next house to participate in a Kava ceremony. The kava was prepared in a large ceremonial bowl then the highest ranked local was served first then Rev Chris and so on through the group. So much as I thought I’d missed out on our arrival I was involved in the end. When the bowl is presented to you you clap once then drink in one motion. The group then claps once again. This process is repeated for each man. The taste was not strong but different to anything I’ve drunk before. It has a bit of a numbing in the mouth.
Our bus arrived soon after so much as the local men were settling in for a long kava session we made our farewells and headed back to the hotel. It had been a truly memorable night.