Arriving in to Rotorua’s sulfur-rich air was a little stingy on the nose! But you soon forget about the smell once you start to explore the Geothermal natural wonders.
Rotorua still has a large Maori population, and we were lucky to be invited to visit the Tamaki Maori Village to learn more about the Maori culture, who have lived amongst the clouds of steam for many years.
From the main office our group (grouped by tour bus) selected a chief. This chief represents our tribe and includes a challenge that takes place with the other tribe warriors. This was awesome start to get us in to the mindset of Maori culture, and beginning to understand their tribal values and way of life.
This is the only formal point of the evening, we are not allowed to laugh, point or show emotion. Beyond this, we are invited to take a walk around the village, with different areas we learn about different aspects of Maori life, from warrior dancing, to arts and craft, and games which you can get involved in should you want to!
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We were invited to ask questions and take lots of photos. It was fascinating to learn about tribal tattoos, each tattoo describing an achievement, a status, its a story in the form of pictures.
We headed into the ancestral meeting house to watch cultural performances and warrior rituals, including both men and women, they shared stories of their own family and meanings by the songs. The famous Haka was included in this, a big tick off our NZ bucket list! So much passion and energy goes into these dances, it was exciting to be part of the audience.
Sharing food is an important part of the Maori custom and so the evening ended with a Hangi buffet feast - this is a traditional method of cooking that takes 2-3 hours. Food such as fish and chicken, and root vegetables; sweet potato and carrots are cooked in a pit dug into the ground - absolutely delicious!
The staff at Tamaki Maori Village were enthusiastic, friendly and welcoming. We thought this may be a little touristy, and whilst it is built for tourists the underlying goal is an evening of fun - and that it was! There is so much passion in the story telling and sharing, and it was so fantastic to leave knowing a little more about Maori way of life.
Disclosure: We were guests of Tamaki Maori Village. All opinions are 100% ours.
Images by Twosome Travellers