A visit from the mob 
Had a fantastic, but very tiring time up in Waitangi. Two maori welcomes, a boat trip across the bay, several seminars, a lot of history and a visit from the Mongrel Mob.

There are two maraes at Waitangi. One is where the Maori gathered to debate the treaty, and we were taken to the exact spot. The other is on the grounds where the treaty was signed, and again we were shown the exact spot where the tent was erected. I've already heard a lot of the history of Waitangi, but there was still plenty I've never heard before.

The boat trip went out to Marsden Cross, where Samuel Marsden preached the first sermon (Christmas Day, 200 years ago). This was shortly before he founded the first oil refinery further down the coast. We had hired a ferry and a smaller jetboat, and the jetboat was the only one able to land on the shore, so it took at least half an hour to get 230 people off the big boat a few at a time. Glorious sunshine, which turned to a heavy downpour as we gathered round the cross. Funny how disaster gives you a sense of togetherness. Fortunately someone had checked the forecast, and had hundreds of cheap plastic ponchos, so we huddled under our plastic bags together.

We had a number of Maori bigwigs including one who had enormous sideburns. In some cultures, you show your status by the size of your moustache. I decided he must be absolutely up there at the top.

One evening we had a visit from ten gang members. Mongrel Mob and Black power side by side. They were largely older men, who had been in the gangs since the beginning, but had decided they had had enough of the violence and wanted to change things. So they had raised money and run family days and children's camps, and used their influence to try to persuade others. What struck me was the historical parallel. We'd been hearing stories of how the warring tribes had made peace long ago after long and bloody conflicts. Now we had the beginnings of another reconciliation. Sure, they were rough and they swore and they still liked their marijuana. But it was a movement from within, and we had the sense of history in the making.

It's taken me a few days to get my energy back. Meanwhile, Bronwyn has been up early getting both girls ready, and also doing quite a few hours working. The manager absolutely loves her. One day, they had rice to eat, and of course it went everywhere. So Bronwyn picks it all up afterwards and mops the floor. The manager was so stunned she decided to pay her for the time even though she'd been voluntary that day.

It's been rather cold and wet. We're expecting a few lambs this week. They usually wait for the most miserable weather before giving birth. We're going to have to keep an eye on the sheep - we've just lost one this week, probably from the cold and damp. No frosts recently though.

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