Thus far on our journey with SFS, we’ve grown personally and academically. It’s the experiences with the people we’ve met and the nature we’ve encountered that have affected us on a personal level. During our first weekend in New Zealand, we stayed with a Maori family who welcomed us into their home. Aaron taught us about the land they’ve inhabited for hundreds of years. On the first day there, he guided us on a quite strenuous hike, continuously stopping to explain medicinal and culinary uses for native plants and the Maori’s spiritual ties to those plants. For example, the New Zealand Honeysuckle is sacred to the Maori people. The Maori never burn the tree because it is said to give off a bad omen. It’s a honeycomb grain that is used to make a nice hardwood floor. In addition, we were fortunate enough to enjoy a tea from one of the native plants found on their land. Just one Kawakawa leaf in a hot cup of water makes a tasty tea that Maori people use to improve digestive health.
Aaron and his family base their lives around a quadruple bottom line: economic, social, cultural, and environmental. By utilizing these four aspects, they attempt to benefit the environment and live a sustainable life on their land. This Maori family hopes to continue to share their culture with anyone willing to learn. They hope to continue the tradition of their culture for many generations to come. The quadruple bottom line has stuck with us in a way that we hope to practice these values, and remember this Maori family, when we return home.