After months of fundraising, Te Ahikaaroa travelled to Greece on 14 August. The group flew for 31 hours with stops in Sydney, Bangkok and Dubai.

Our first afternoon in Athens was spent swimming at The President Hotel and eating pastries from across the road. The next day we had a tour of Athens. We visited the Acropolis and the Phaleron War Cemetery, where many New Zealand soldiers are buried. We then took a five hour bus ride to the island of Lefkada.

On arrival at Lefkada we found that our accommodation was high school classrooms. The following morning was very ‘interesting’ as we had to buy our own breakfast. We found out that the toilets were a hole in the ground and our showers were a hose and a sink. Daytime was playtime as it was too hot to perform. We hired pedal bikes to roam about on and took a cruise around the islands. Swimming also kept us entertained until the evening performances.

During the day we were known as the ‘maaaarriis’ but when we dressed up in our haka uniforms we were treated like royalty. The Greek people were interested to learn that my cousin Hera Putiputi has the same first name as the Goddess Hera, who was the wife of Zeus.

Waiariki Paraone,17, says he enjoyed experiencing new foods and performing in another country. He says the trip has given him a wider look at the world and what it has to offer. He met a lot of new people who he now considers life-long friends.
“I can’t wait to go back and visit my Greek family,” he says.

Hineamaru Paraone,14, says when she heard she was going to Greece she panicked.
“I had never been further than Australia and here we were travelling half-way across the world.”

Her experience in Greece was one that she will never forget.
“From walking up rocky outcrops in 40-degree plus temperatures, to simple pleasures like biking, to bathrooms that have toilets that aren’t in the ground.”

“When we visited places like the Parthenon Temple at the Athenian Acropolis, the Oracle of Delphi, and the Olympic Stadium in Olympia, it was honestly amazing.”

Hineamaru says she misses Lefkada a lot, especially being surrounded by whānau and friends.

“I encourage other rangatahi to get involved in things such as kapa haka. Who knows, you may find yourself standing under the Eiffel Tower doing the haka,” she says.

Thank you Taumutu Rūnanga, for supporting us and allowing us to take advantage of this amazing opportunity of a lifetime.

Mean Waiariki mean.

Mean Waiariki mean.

Ripeka, Hineamaru and Waiariki Paraone.

Ripeka, Hineamaru and Waiariki Paraone.

Te Ahikaaroa during a performance at a street parade.

Te Ahikaaroa during a performance at a street parade.

Mean Māori mean.

Performing in the streets parade.