This June has prepared something very special for us: a performance of Maori cultural group. The group takes its origin in New Zealand. This year, they celebrate 155 years since first Czechs arrived to New Zealand and settled in a town called Puhoi, located in the Northern island. Their performance is truly unique and filled with traditional dance and songs and will take place at ArtBar Druhý Pád on June 4. Below you can read a short interview with Frank Tomas Grapl, the leader of native Maori cultural performance group Whakaari Rotorua.
Frank’s story is one of a kind: his father, who came from Brno, escaped from communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s. “The communist regime put him in a forced labour camp because he was speaking out against the system for democracy and freedom” – says Frank. Many years later, his father met Frank’s mother in Rotorua, New Zealand, the city where the current leader of Maori cultural group was born and still lives to this day.
Frank has visited the Czech Republic and the former Czechoslovakia over 18 times. He also adds that a lot of remarkable Czechs such as Alexander Dubček, Václav Havel, Jaroslav Dušek, Daniel Landa and a musical band Chinaski have all stayed at his home in Rotorua.
Frank was a guest at the famous Czech talk show “Show Jana Krause” too.
This year Maori cultural group is travelling around the Czech Republic and visiting a lot of towns including Brno. You can check their schedule at the following link.
Frank, tell us more about Maori culture. What is it famous for?
Maori culture is famous for our spirituality and deep roots with our connection to the land and nature we live in. It runs in our folklore, in our unique music to which we sing, dance and tell stories of our past, present and even future generations. Our tattoos on our face and body are also very unique and can be easily recognised all around the world.
I see! Earlier you told us about your Czech roots. Do you feel connected to the Czech Republic?
Yes I do. I have been travelling to the Czech Republic since I was 4 years old. This country draws me in some magical way. As I mentioned before, my father is from Brno and I am known as a “MaoriAvian – MaoraVak – CzechoMaor” because of my Moravian roots and my love for the Czech Republic and Czech people.
What’s the story behind the performance?
The stories are about our love for our people, our tribes and our ancestors. It’s about respecting the nature and ancient traditions. Our mission is to remind people about the simple things in life, that is extremely important.
That’s great! What’s so special about your event?
It’s the 155–year anniversary, this is a huge occasion! Everyone who will come to our event is going to see and feel the energy that is going to give them power, strength and inspiration through our music and dance that, I think, they have never experienced before. It is all about positive emotions.
Wow, sounds amazing! Tell us more about the art of Maori tattooing. What does it symbolise?
In the old days we didn’t have a written language. The tattoos symbolise who we are, where we come from, what tribe we belong to and who our family is. Our language was told through our tattoos before it became possible to write in it with the help of Europeans.
Sounds appealing to you? Visit the performance of the Maori cultural group, get closer to their history and culture and even try their dance! The tickets for purchase are available here. Foreigners is an official partner of the event.
Photos are provided by Frank Tomas Grapl.