Maori brother in the desert, and his special bond with his camel.
I participated in the Rakayib expedition through the Rub' al khali desert, with the Bedouins and other contenders, from neighbouring GCC countries, such as Oman, Uae, Kuwait and other countries around the globe. There were approximately 80 contenders at the starting point and 63 made it to the finish point.
The trek took around 4 weeks to complete.
The day before we started the expedition, we had to learn how to tie down our own saddles, and learn about the camels, and how to take care of them.
Then we were advised to choose any camel, I chose the wrong camel it had a very bad temperament.
I mounted the camel and it took off. I was desperately trying to hold on, but I fell off, unknowingly breaking 4 ribs.
Their was no doctor to check or tend to me only a veterinarian. I was severely winded, and the vet poured water on my head, and asked where the camel was. I said "who cares khalas."
I was asked if I wanted to continue the expedition as I was injured, I said "yes I want to continue."
I had to choose another camel, I walked through the camels they were all taken except a few, then I saw him sitting down, he was blind in one eye and half blind in the other, and he had a scab on his neck.
I stood next to him and he sniffed me, he was the camel no one wanted, and he hadn't even been broken in, but I wanted him, when I saw him I knew he was the one. I said to him " we are the same, you and I, we are both injured."
I got on the Bedouins truck and found a saddle. The Bedouin helped me tie the saddle on, as I was in pain.
We walked him for a few kiliometres, then I had to Mount him.
I got him to sit down by pulling his bridle, and said, "enoho" sit in Maori and he sat, I spoke his commands in Maori and he obeyed.
As I went to mount him, then I said "I'm going to name you Hoturoa."
The name Hoturoa is the name of a captain of the Tainui canoe.
I mounted Hoturoa, and he wouldn't move.
We tied another camel to Hoturoa so that he would lead, and for safety purposes.
This tactic worked, Hoturoa was good to go, now he had a mate. Hoturoa was approx 5 years old.
I started the trek wearing sandals and I threw them away, bare feet it was, Maori styles.
I had to get used to using a camel stick, I lost mine on the way and it made the journey slower.
A Bedouin gave me his camel stick that his father gave him, which is now a taonga treasure.
After a few days Hoturoa got to trust me. He never took his eyes of me, he was very loyal. He was staunch too.
Every morning I woke to the Athaan, I prayed got the fire going, then I would go and find Hoturoa, he always responded to his name.
Breakfast would be fresh bread made over the fire, olive oil, coffee and sand.
Sometimes we would have tuna or army rations which we didn't like.
Hoturoa liked to eat the bread I gave him.
I used to go under Hoturoa to saddle him up, as It was the easiest way for me, due to my ribs. The Bedouins said going under a camel could kill you, they can trample you. I trusted Hoturoa, we became very close.
The thing with camels is that they either love you or hate you.
I would lean back on Hoturoa as if he was a couch. He would lay his head on my neck and on me. I would hug him, talk to him and pat him. He always stayed beside me, even by the fire, he was happy to be with me. He would always keep his eye on me he was very loyal.
Hoturoa was very spirited he would attack the Bedouins.
Even the dominant camel of the group wouldn't mess with him, and made way for him to drink.
I miss him and would love to visit him again.
When I returned to New Zealand, I went to the doctors and did an x-ray, the doctor rang me up at 10 pm at night and said, "you have four broken ribs, how did you cross the desert in that state."
Hoturoa made it easier for me through my injuries, he was the only camel that would go down hill with a rider, I didnt have the energy to walk down, the other camels wouldn't do it, he was very in tuned to my needs.
I could direct him with a light tap and he would obey.
The Bedouins were impressed with how I trained him with out beating him and with out any experience. It came natural to me because I was around horses in New Zealand.
The Bedouins become your best friends in the desert, one gave me his Grandfather's Quran, the other his tesbee, they are both a taonga treasure, that I keep with fond memories.
When the expedition was over, and time for me to leave.
Hoturoa watched on as I left, I said my good byes to him, I kept turning back to look at him, and he kept watching me till he couldnt see me anymore.
Ka kite ano ehoa Hoturoa inshallah.
See you again my friend Hoturoa God willing.
Haka in front of the Saudi prince.
Maori brother Musa Taukiri.
Here I am performing the Haka in front of the Saudi prince, Prince Ahmad bin Fahd bin Salman in March 2019. When I finished he said "that's the haka of the All Blacks", I said "yes this Haka originated from my Tupuna- ancestors, my Iwi- tribe."
I was approached by one of the officials to perform a Haka, after the bedouins had witnessed my tribute Haka for the Christchurch Martyrs.
The march 15 Christchurch Massacre happen as I was crossing the desert, as I was apart of the Rukayib desert Expedition.
Sitting around the campfire with the Bedouins, reflecting on the burdensome news.
I was compelled to get up and do what we Maori do.
I did a heart felt Haka, I released all my raw emotions grief, aroha, love and compassion to tautoko-support, the Martyred Muslims of Christchurch, which happened a few days prior.
I was also missing my whanau- family, and I was buggered after crossing the desert which took 26 days.
I had four broken ribs due to falling of two different camels three times.
The Bedouins watching my Haka were scared, and wondering why I was angry, they were told it was a war dance and they embraced me after wards, and did their cultural war dance for me.
All who attended the expedition supported me through the desert, we formed strong bonds of brotherhood as we relied heavily on each other, our camels and Allah swt, the desert was harsh, tough, and beautiful.