The Museum to End All Museums

I earlier stated that ACMI was one of the greatest museums I have ever been to. I was right. However, Te Papa, the museum in Wellington, New Zealand is easily the best museum I have ever been to. It was incredible. Right when you walk into Te Papa, there are three trolls from The Hobbit. It was quite the entrance. The museum featured 6 floors I believe, and the material on each floor ranged from history, to geography, to many other topics and what was the most interesting thing was that it was completely about New Zealand. 

What made it really stick out to me was that it was absolutely beautiful there. I learned so much and I could have spent hours in that museum. There was so much information on the complete history of New Zealand and what was really interesting was that all of the words were also translated into the Maori native language. It is really part of the initiative to not lose the Maori culture and a big part of that is not losing the Maori language, which I thought was incredible. The museum had full size replicas of Maori boats and huts and other tribal things that were absolutely beautiful and really made you take a step back in awe. 

The whole experience there made me feel as though I just learned so much more about New Zealand, got a much better grasp on their culture, and just really appreciate the country as a whole.


— Joe Incorvia


Holy Lord, I Have Been to Isengard

I love the Lord of the Rings. Seriously, I love them. So much. It is sort of ridiculous. One of the most appealing aspects of this Study Abroad to me was the fact that we were going to be able to go to New Zealand for the Lord of the Rings locations tour. That may or may not have been the absolute best moment of my life, but I will get to that in a moment.

The film industry in New Zealand is huge. There is such a presence that is so much larger than just that of Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Hobbit. There is a reason why the industry is booming here. It is because the country of New Zealand is beautiful and has much potential for any films to be set there. Peter Jackson is just one of the many reasons why the industry has taken off in the extent that it has.

We had the opportunity to go visit the Weta Cave, which is the storefront and showcase of Weta Films, Peter Jackson’s company. They produce great feature films and do a lot with animation for different movie companies and animators all over the world. They are mainly famous for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but have branched out to work on so many great things, including Avatar. 

The film industry is a presence in New Zealand because they are a country that can handle the industry in such a laid back way, which is something that comes with their culture of doing things well, yet under the radar. While Peter Jackson has stemmed a lot of the buzz surrounding the New Zealand film industry, it is not the sole reason why it has been so successful.

The Lord of the Rings locations tour was absolutely incredible. It now only exhibited how beautiful Wellington is and New Zealand is as a whole, but also how creative Peter Jackson and his team was in shooting the films. The spots that they shot in were just normal areas and they were shot in a way that dressed them up to be Middle Earth and be incredible. The amount that the global film industry has gained from Weta and Peter Jackson is phenomenal.

— Joe Incorvia

Conflicting Tribal Viewpoints

One of the most intriguing things that I have learned on this Study Abroad was that there was two different views on the tribal peoples of Australia and New Zealand, depending on the country that you are in. 

Australia has an interesting view on their aboriginals. They really downtalk them and do not have the best opinions of them. They view the aboriginals as less than equal and just think of them as drunks that do not really do anything for society or Australia as a whole. There has been some sort of movement for looking at Aboriginal ancestry and that has sparked some celebration in their culture and awareness for them. But I also think that it is really difficult for Australia to shake their perceptions of Aboriginals and they will continue to have off views of them because of the history between them and the view that they were a bunch of criminals that do not contribute much to the conversation.

Now, New Zealand, on the other hand, they have a completely different view on the Maori, their tribal people. They treat them respectfully and with a lot of support. They are really in tune to their culture and they still use much of their culture in their lives today. For example, the New Zealand All Blacks, the national rugby team of New Zealand uses the Maori war dance, the Haka, at the beginning of every single one of their games. It is not only a intimidation factor but shows that they  take pride in their roots and where they come from. The Maori aren’t treated like outsiders or primitive peoples, they are shown respect, and that is really interesting and noble in my opinion.

— Joe Incorvia

The Land Down Under

Overall, looking back on Australia during our last nights there what stood out to me the most is the fact that there is a sentiment in Australia of doing things well and looking at life from a laid back perspective. Australia is a country where you need to take a step back and just absorb what is going on around you. There is so much to experience and so much to see and enjoy that at times you feel overwhelmed, but in a good way. 

Cairns in particular, is truly what made Australia unique for me because of the fact that is it was unlike Melbourne or Sydney in the sense that it was more of a small oceanside city than a urban center. It gave somewhat of a Caribbean feel and made it seem like you were in a unique and spectacular place. Its proximity to the mountains, the forests, and the Great Barrier Reef makes it an incredible place to visit and its tropic feel is beautiful and calming. 

It showcases an enriched environment that gave us not only a side of Australia that was closer to aboriginal tribes, but also a taste of what rural Australia is, and while we were not in the middle of the countryside we were able to see the slower and calmer side of Australia, which was really beneficial. 

— Joe Incorvia

Tourism… The Spice of Australia

I briefly touched on this during my blogpost about Sydney, but seriously, look at Australia. It is quite frankly one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen in my life. It is also completely understandable why. What makes Australia such a unique place is not only the beauty of the countryside, but the kindness of the people and the diversity of its culture. 

Driving along the cliffside out of Cairns and looking along out into the ocean and down the cliffs make me really believe that Australia is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The beaches are incredible, the mountains are breathtaking, and the sights will leave you wanting to stay there forever. It is so easy to see why so many people dream of coming to Australia and dream of seeing the sights that Australians get to see every single day. 

One of the best experiences of my life was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef. I always imagined what it would be like and always imagined what it would be like to see the GBR in person, but I had no idea how truly beautiful and impressed that I ended up being. The water was incredibly warm and it is nearly impossible to express the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef when you are up close to it. The rainforest was also incredible and the Gondola ride up to Kuranda Village showcased the beauty of the forest. 

Australia has so much to offer in terms of beauty and in terms of activities to do. It is very easy to see why tourism is one of the leading industries in Australia.

— Joe Incorvia

The Maoris vs The Aboriginals

The Maori tribe of New Zealand are a celebrated group of people that are still revered today. The Aboriginals of Australia are not. The difference in how these two cultures have been accepted in their modern-day countries is significant.

This difference has been somewhat evident from the beginning of our class last fall, when we saw the film Rabbit Proof Fence, which depicted the Lost Generation of Australia. This film told the true story of Aboriginals being taken from their families during the 1930s in order to be taught the “correct” way of living, thus forgetting their native roots. And although those extreme measures are of course no longer enacted, there seems to be a general ignorance in Australia about the Aboriginals. For the most part, locals are completely uneducated about this group of native people. In fact, the only time we really heard anything about them was when we visited the Aboriginal Park during one of our last days in Australia. People in the country are simply apathetic about this fascinating group of people. 

In New Zealand the opposite is true. They are proud of their people and are insistent in educating today’s generation on the Maori tribe. This is obvious everywhere you go in New Zealand, as there is Maori scripture written on most of the signs around the cities. The people of New Zealand are making a very conscious effort to keep the Maoris a big part of their modern culture, which is certainly something to be commended. 


-Karl Lucas


Learn to throw a boomerang: √

I was really excited to go to learn about the Aboriginal culture in Australia. After seeing such movies as Rabbit Proof Fence it was really interesting to see how the modern Australian atmosphere towards the aboriginals is today. Going to Tjabukai Park was really cool because we were able to learn about what the aboriginals do and how their history. It was really interesting to see their dances and see how they lived their lives. While it is set up as a tourist attraction, it still had genuine informational value and we learned a lot. 

We were taught how to throw their spears and boomerangs. It was so cool learning how to throw a boomerang because I thought that it was really difficult and it actually was a lot easier than I thought that it would be. We also learned how they used to fight their tribal wars and their strategies. Their tribal dance and explanation showcased more into what they believe in and how they interact with each other and it was something that was really interesting to watch.

I think what is really intriguing is the fact that Australians have really strong opinions of the Aboriginals. It was typically seen as disgraceful to be of aboriginal decent and was looked down upon. In fact, many Australians treat them in such a way that makes them not appear as equals at all. Yet, at the same time, there is also a shift in a small sense of the way they view the aboriginals. Now, in some parts, if you can find aboriginal blood in your lineage you are viewed higher because of how they were critical to the history of Australia.

While I may be the most happy that I can now throw a boomerang, I have learned a lot about the aboriginals and what influence they have had on Australia’s culture.

— Joe Incorvia