From left, Te Ata, Gerard and Herewini 
in front of some of the bamboo structures they learned to build.

Bamboo boys return from a trip of a lifetime

About a year or so ago, the Chronicle reported on some Raglan youths jetting off to the United States for a trip of a lifetime. The Chronicle sat down with the two boys, Te Ata and Herewini Barlow to hear about their experience.

Tell us a bit about where you two have been and what you have been doing.
We’ve been in Portugal for the past two months building and designing our own wharenui (marae) as a stage for the artists of BOOM Festival.

How did this opportunity come up?
Gerald Minakawa, a master bamboo architect, came to New Zealand in 2015 to help Bri and Nai with the ‘Soundsplash’ build. He taught us how to erect standard H frames to replace the massive marques so it was a bit more eco-friendly. I guess he was impressed with our work ethic and the Maori culture and wanted to portray that on the other side of the world.

Tell us about the festival you were involved in (music/food/people).
Boom festival is an eco-friendly, sacred geometry inspired, psychedelic trance festival that goes for seven days and happens every two years. 40,000 people from all corners of the earth come to celebrate it. There’s no age barrier, so anyone is welcome. The food is amazing. The people are loving and the atmosphere is crazy!

How many people/nationalities were you working with?
We had the biggest crew and most nationalities out of all the crews that were working at ‘Boom’. We had Americans, Russians, Chinese, Romanians, Poles, Indians, Portuguese, Mexicans, South Africans and of course Maori. All up, there were at least 16-17 of us.

How did you cope with language or cultural barriers, if any?
It was kinda hard at first, you kinda get the gist of everything after a while, just like any other place I guess. Mostly everyone spoke English, so we were safe

What things have inspired you or changed your look on life from this experience?
It was definitely a life-changing experience. It’s inspired me to travel the world more and get out of my comfort zone and live life to the fullest.

You worked with amazing mentors in the form of Gerald (Bamboo DNA) and Pai. How was that learning?
It was a great learning experience working with Gerard and Pai. They’re awesome to work with – really easy going and overall just legends at what they do.

What was your favourite memory from your trip?
My favourite memories would be just experiencing the whole thing, seeing what we created from start to finish, seeing how it all works, all the amazing people we met on the way, all the amazing places we got to see when not at the festival. The whole two months was my favourite memory.

You bring home some amazing skills. Will we get to see them?
You’re gonna have to wait and find out.

Would you like to thank anyone for your journey?
I’d like to give a massive thank you to Brian and Naomi for pretty much hooking us up with the opportunity. I’d like to give a huge thank you to Aunty Bex and Tamara for their time and effort and everyone else who supported us on the way. We are super grateful for our Whaingaroa community supporting us throughout our fundraising efforts last year. Much love!
This is just some more info. Gerard wanted me, Herewini and Pai to design the wharenui and name it. And after a little thought, we decided to name the wharenui after our brother Raa who passed away. So, we named our marae “Te Wharenui o Raa”