Rotorua resident Frank Grapl hosted the popular Czech band, Chinaski, while they visited the region and reflects on the bond between Māori and the Czech Republic.

The biggest pop-rock band in the Czech Republic, Chinaski, arrived in Rotorua to a special pōhiri at Te Puia last Friday.

They were struck by the spirituality, the spirit of the people as well as the friendliness and traditional greetings of the hongi.

The group comes from a country and culture where in many regions people are quite reserved and conservative.

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It takes them a while to open up their hearts and minds because of their history with the Germans and communists, who occupied their country for many years from 1938, and terrible things are still instilled deep inside their minds.

Therefore the open hearts and minds from local people they received in Rotorua created an amazing impression on all of them making them feel like family and not just visitors.

The group loved the Māori melodies from the performance and were surprised how similar the Czech and Māori alphabet were to each other which meant they were able to pronounce words perfectly.

The Māori history they learned while here gave them a new appreciation for any land they will step on worldwide, now and into the future.

This year is the 155th anniversary of the first Czech people to arrive and settle in New Zealand, originally in Puhoi where the Czech village and pub still exists today.

Chinaski lead singer Michal Malatny now wears his greenstone around his neck as his special memory and I believe the publicity that Chinaski has brought from the Czech Republic to Rotorua will have a positive impact on tourism.

I hope there is some appreciation from Rotorua and they can see the value of sharing our culture to the world.