Team Talk - Tamara: Katz in Palestine


He Ao Kotahi travels with one male artist and one female artist to each country. The Palestinian Series travelled with Paitangi Ostick (in this web series) and Katz Maihi (whose episode aired on Maori Television on Monday 31 Aug 2017 and can be seen On Demand on the Maori Television Website by clicking here).


Team Talk: Tamara - Head of our Armenian/Russian contingent- membership of 1.  

I was there for the food. There, I said it. Don’t judge me until you know how good the food is in Palestine. I don’t know about you, but I am a big fan of eating. So back in 2007 on my first trip over - when I was still pretty clueless about Palestine - the first thing that hit my senses was the food. The smells, colours, sights and the sheer abundance, and of course the people who were not afraid to generously force-feed you.

That’s the thing about Palestinians, they are very, very bossy when it comes to making you eat stuff. And I am not talking about little snacks either.  First comes the mountains of rice, vegetables, meat and baking, all prepared from scratch. Then they make you eat the sweets. And then there’s the coffee. And then (if you can squeeze out through the door) they shove fruit, nuts, dates, figs and more sweets into your hands as you desperately attempt to break into a run. All of that terroristic hospitality is done with quiet smiles and good humour, making it impossible to say, ‘no’.

It's a trap I have fallen into many a time.

So as we were preparing to return for a different documentary project we’ve been self-funding, Paula says to me, “there will be six of us going”. That was before Rohan and Ash decided to join us (fuller story of how Rohan decided to travel with total strangers into a new, strange country here). "Oh, and by the way, I've got an awesome idea for another project on top of the five we are already making", she reckons. "Ok, cool!" 

I know most of the team already, especially Shirley. I’ve known her for years via Maori TV’s karaoke competition show, 'Homai te Pakipaki'. Shirley was in charge of the first auditions and I was in charge of filming behind the scenes, with much reluctance from Shirls. Apparently she doesn’t like to be filmed. But we all think otherwise. We believe she needs her own show! (keep your eyes out for 'Shirleys World' appearing on our facebook page verrry soon.). And then there’s lovely Roy! (another former Homai alumni) and Katz and Ebony and Ash and Rohan.  And so the eight of us made our way to Palestine, each of us with a memorable story, some more traumatic than others (read: lost passport on bus story here).

To celebrate the first contingent arriving in Jerusalem, of course we went out to eat. And so here I was again, savouring my reunion with the kebabs, tabouleh, olives, bbq meats, spicy fil-fil, hummus, bread, bread, hummus, surrounded by the new/old team of friends, all of us fighting jet lag, all of us enjoying the food and the rest, as they say, is history. History involving a lot of eating, but more importantly, reconnecting with one of the most generous groups of people I've ever met - all of whom I have missed so much.

So when I say I am there for the food, what I’m in fact saying is I am here for the friendships, and the sharing, and the laughter, and the breathing in of our One World community (but also because the food is real good).

Team TalkClea Pettit