My gut feeling to leave the east coast of Australia and venture to the North Island of New Zealand has paid off unbelievably. No matter how many times it happens, it continues to amaze me how much easier life becomes when I simply stop to listen, and then move downstream in the direction given.
I look forward to the day when I can truly live 100% of the time feeling my way through life’s journeys without trying to think so much about it.
My new friends Maui & Philli in Perth recommended I get together with Panapa Ehau, another of their friends currently living in Auckland. Panapa and I had sent a few emails prior to my arrival discussing getting together and I was eager to meet him for a number of reasons, the first of which, to learn as much as possible about his ongoing P.H.D. involving traveling around the country speaking to the elders about the most pono, or appropriate way, of developing Maori lands.
As I gathered my pack and exited customs, Panapa and I managed to make our introductions as well as giving aloha to his honey Rebecca. Within about an hour I knew that Panapa and I were meant to be in each other’s presence, immediately inthralled in some of my favorite topics such as surfing, spirituality, entrepreneurship, culture, love, and adventure. It was as if the commonalities of our bloodlines had spoken for generations, seamlessly merging the Kanaka Maoli and the Kanaka Maori within each of us.
I find out that Panapa is also involved with an epoxy design surfboard company based out of his home town of Gisborne called Keahana Surfboards. I want one. I’d traveled around the world surfing in every country I visited without a board and it was time to get one for myself for New Zealand and Fiji before heading home.
“So, how do I get a Keahana?” I ask eagerly. “Can we go down to Gisborne and pick one up? How far is it?”
After only about a four second pause Panapa replies, “Yup, we can go. We’ll leave tonight about 11 o-clock, surf all day, and drive back tomorrow night.”
“Wow. Right on!”
“Yeah…well, it’s gonna take about 7 hours, are you still down for that?”
I quickly start doing the math in my head. Ok, so we get there about 6am buy a board, surf all day on virtually no sleep, and then leave the next evening for another 7 hours of dark countryside and no sleep…
“Let’s do it.”
Panapa then texts his sidekick, Sam Judd, who ironically turns out to be New Zealand’s EXACT replica of Hawaii’s, Mike Judd. I swear they are brothers separated at birth. Yet, NZ Judd’s scars from a big Tiger shark bite on his thigh while surfing in the Galapagos Islands may give a slight differentiation…
Regardless, NZ Judd quickly received all of HI Judd’s nicknames by default.
When we finally make contact with Judd when we are already in the car about to get on the highway headed south. In true sidekick fashion, Judd apparently is roused out of the bed of his wahine at 11:30 at night, inspired by our mission and asks for a pick up. As he gathers his things, the wahine is left shaking her head, convinced we had all lost our minds traveling 14 hours by car just to pick up a surfboard and catch a couple waves…
Little did I know, this type of ‘drop everything and charge by night in the car for never less than 6 hours’ would become the norm for a solid 8 days of travel adventure throughout the North Island.
Panapa and Judd-scrode turn out to be absolute animals and I’m always down for whatever they come up with next…
The actual story of the 8 days is too much to tell here but I’ve calculated that we clocked between 50 to 60 hours in the car, all under the darkness of night, arriving at each subsequent beach at dawn, eager to give our gills a well deserved dunk in the sea.
Everyone who heard about our adventures seemed to respond with a speechless look on their face, almost not knowing whether it was admirable or just plain nuts. Regardless, we always left them with a sense of inspiration, in whatever form they chose to receive it.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was actually nights spent talking with Panapa blazing though the beautiful, yet dark, New Zealand countryside. We would ask the tough questions of each other, of life, love, and of our culture’s past and present. Since the day we met we had been teaching and learning Maori and Hawaiian language and one night in particular Panapa started asking the same tough questions, but insisted I respond in ‘olelo Hawaii. The experience was magical. Perhaps even a little euphoric as a result of virtually no sleep for days on end compounding the moment. As I answered questions about Why I was traveling, Who I hoped would emerge, and the path I’d chosen, the words just came. Words that I forgot I’d even learned, or perhaps never actually ever did in school. If I ever got stumped on word, Panapa’s reminder in Maori would refresh my memory and allow movement forward. Panapa would answer the same questions in Maori and the sound of his words penetrated my soul. There is an amazing strength in language spoken directly from one’s na’au.
As I continue to grow, the closer I feel to my Hawaiian roots and given Hawaiian name, although the blood quantum of European ancestry far surpasses the Hawaiian circling in my koko. Time with Panapa has reminded me that the lessons from those of my past that I most resonate with offer perspectives and knowledge without bias or existing criteria, and that everything unfolds in due time.
In the same way that you can not stand completely upright with your feet together on a surfboard and expect to have the foundation to flow with the wave, I’ve learned that by planting a foot in the past and a foot in the future proves the most effective foundation for my constant existence in the present.
In return, a life in the present allows for moments like these to emerge, catapulting me into positions of insight in whichever direction I so desire.
The car trip into a part of my cultural past is one that I will hold as an example that all knowledge is there for your use if you can find a way to tap into it.
As the magic in our conversation began to subside from exhaustion, Panapa did a little dance in the passenger seat followed by a huge smile in my direction, concluding another life changing moment experienced on my travels found without expectation.
Even if I was able to script my trip full of expectations, my imagination would never come up with anything near what actually transpires. The analogy of hours upon hours in the car remind me that I am indeed, in every way, simply along for the ride…
The final event of the 8 day adventure concluded with a concert on the waterfront of Wellington called Homegrown. There were 5 different stages, over 20 different bands of various genres, and amphitheaters filled to the brim with Kiwi’s.
Among the local bands on stage was Hawaii familiar, Katchafire, of which I danced my pants off from start to finish.
An 8 hour drive and 4:30 am arrival this morning from Wellington to Auckland concluded this week’s missions.
Can’t wait to see what’s next…
I’d write more but as you can imagine…I’m just a little bit tired.