The New Zealand Diaries: exploring Maori culture (part 2) (31/12/2015)


I have just got back from my Maori experience at Tamaki Maori village and have to say it was a fantastic evening. The hangi they cooked for us there was delicious, and I learned alot about Maori culture and customs both there and generally today, during my visit to the Whakawewawera Village, an authentic Maori village amidst volcanic mineral and mud pools where people still live today.


I now have a much deeper understanding of the Maoris deep pride of their culture and the resulting desire they have to share their values and traditions with outsiders;about the importance of weaving and carving for Maoris and the pride they take in their skills in this regard, of their strong focus onfamily ties and bonds including any relevant ancestors, and about their profound connectedness to and respect for nature. I have seen two impressive cultural performances, which have included the famous haka  with its incredible sounds, mimics and gestures.

During these performances, what moved me the most was a beautiful love song of a man and a woman who cannot be together due to tribal issues. Thankfully, unlike in “Romeo and Juliet” those lovers do manage to be together by the end, rather than ending up stabbed and dead in a tomb. The song was so moving despite my lack of understanding of the language



What was also fascinating was seeing how the volcanic pools are part of the daily lives of the Maoris living at Whakawewawera: they cook their meat and vegetables in communal “ovens” in the ground; and take their baths in the communal hot pools at 5pm every day. The corn on the cob I had today,pulled straight out of a burning hot pool, really was the best ever.

Whakawewawera was of course also fascinating due to the sounds and smells of the geothermal activity there and due to its history, which I further explored at Rotorua museum in the aftermoom. When standing there amidst bubbling spurting mud pools, turquoise mineral lakes, and the  Pohutu and Prince of Wales geysers shooting water into the air, I suddenly understood that these people effectively live on a faultline-volcano combo, which explains how the entire original village could have been wiped out and buried last century. The way the tribe re-settled and started afresh in Whakawewawera after that is one of many signs of Maori perseverance in the face of trials and adversity