Land Of The LETS Green Dollar
Copyright � James Taris


No, these aren't natives. They're performers at the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley tourist centre.

8. Tuesday, April 1

Agrodome Gnome

April Fool's Day started off without any problems at all. We were all still in holiday mode, so Bryan, Joan and I went to the Agrodome Farm Show. Sounds boring hey. Not!

The Agrodome was one of the best tourist attractions I'd ever seen. Our first stop was at the Live Sheep Show. Nineteen breeds of sheep were introduced on stage, each represented by a magnificent ram. But the demonstrator's showmanship was brilliant. He played mind games with the sheep. He even sheared a sheep on stage in just over a minute.

Then he held an auction for the shorn sheep, and in a professional auctioneers voice sold it for NZ$52 to � a 7 year old Thai girl! Then when she came on stage to collect her sheep, without the money, he traded it to her for the little girl's purse and one of her shoes. Luckily the girl handled herself magnificently and was rewarded with a little toy sheep. She got her purse back but left the stage without her shoe! She did get it back though, and the show continued.

He demonstrated how good a sheep dog was by herding a couple of ducks! He then got 3 other sheep dogs to run along the sheeps' backs while the sheep ignored them completely.

Finally, he brought a cow onto stage for milking, and Joan was lucky to be one of the 4 people selected to milk it. She managed to get the first squirt out, but then the milk stopped coming. Obviously Joan was not made for milking.

We also visited:

1) the Agrodome Woolen Mill - where we saw raw sheep's wool transformed by a 1906 carding machine (about the size of a train carriage) into a continuous, finely combed length of wool.

2) the Fudge and Chocolate Factory - where we saw pure chocolate being mixed and placed into ornate moulds, then being placed into a fridge to set before being taken out again and flicked out of their moulds for packaging.

Rotorua Geysers

Bryan and Joan watch Pohutu Geyser, the largest geyser in New Zealand, blow its top.

But seeing the geysers in Rotorua were always going to be the highlight. So off we went to Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, the home of the world famous Pohutu Geyser. After walking past some small, but interesting hot mud pools and steaming underground vents, we were most impressed by New Zealand's most famous geyser. We were entertained by hot water gushes up to 10 metres high, though it's been known to go as high as 30 metres. And the show was so exciting that we didn't mind the sulfur smell at all. It just came with the territory.

The Maori Meeting House had just started its Maori show when we got there. So after removing our shoes, we entered the crowded room and witnessed a traditional display of Maori dance and music, featuring 'Pokarekareana' and many aggressively protruding tongues.

Rotorua LETS

Bryan and Joan were about to pick up Gloria, Joan's cousin from England, so I took the opportunity to find an Internet caf� and catch up with my emails. I finished at 6.45pm and so rang Bryan to get picked up.

"We've been trying to find you," Joan said. "Rotorua LETS rang earlier on and asked to hear your presentation tonight. You start at 7pm."

Bryan was quick to pick me up, and we got to the meeting by 7.10pm. Rotorua LETS was formed about 10-12 years ago and has only about 19 members now. Only 2 people were at that meeting, Katharine Oliver (Secretary) and Wilma (ex-member) but the group had been going through some difficult times recently, so I was happy to try and help if I could. I'd noticed that the LETS groups in New Zealand were operating more like Community Currency groups (like in Japan), so my ideas were a little radical for these people. Whether they would accept them and adapt to them in the future would still remain to be seen.

This article is taken from the ebook,
Land of the LETS Green Dollar

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