A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. – Mahatma Gandhi
When I am being asked about which 3 things I enjoyed the most during my New Zealand trip, I usually enumerate the following: my Hobbiton trip, the sunset, and ganet experience at Muriwai Beach, and the visit at Whakarewarewa, a Living Maori Village. (And yes, the challenge when you have to say the name of this village).
The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand who are said to have originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia and arrived in New Zealand by way of canoe voyages. They come in different tribes, and in the town of Rotorua, a tribe called Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao have welcomed local and foreign visitors into their village and has openly shared their way of life, including their land’s geothermal reserves.
Whakarewarewa, the Living Māori Village, allows every visitors a chance to experience a genuine Māori Village wherein the people live on a daily basis as they make use of the natural geothermal resources to bathe, cook, and even provide warmth to their homes.
The village features the renowned Pohutu geyser, several boiling mud-pools, steam vents, and even bubbling pools. During the village tour, I also saw how the residents prepare Hangi meals in using in-ground steam boxes and cook corn in the bubbling water of their geothermal hot pools.
Hāngī food is said to be traditionally wrapped in flax leaves however, the modern Hāngī is likely to substitute the leaves with cloth, aluminum foil, and or even wire baskets. The baskets are placed on hot stones at the bottom of the hole. The food is then covered with a wet cloth and a mound of ground that traps the heat from the stones around the food. It is left for about three to four hours, depending on the food (whether fish or chicken) and quantity being cooked. I tried their hangi pie and it was surprisingly good.
Our group was very fortunate to have a highly enthusiastic and informative Maori guide during the village tour. It was a great avenue to understand the history of the area, how the people manage to live in a challenging environment like Whakarewarewa Valley, and of course get to know more about the different historical landmarks within the village. This includes an active Marae (a fenced-in complex of carved buildings and grounds that belongs to a particular iwi or tribe), a World War II Memorial Archway, two historical churches, and tapu (sacred) burial grounds.
The most exciting part of this visit was the cultural show wherein performances happen at 1:15 am and 2:00 pm. It was such a delight watch and listen as the Kapa Haka group of performers sing and dance some beautiful Maori song and dances. It was such an entertaining show.
Fast Facts about Whakarewarewa Village:
- Opening hours Daily (except for Christmas Day) 8.30am to 5 pm.
- Guided tours on the hour from 9.00am with the last tour at 4.00pm.
- Maori Cultural Performance times are 11.15am and 2 pm.
- It is best to book online.
Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village
Phone: +64 7 349 3463
Physical Address: 17 Tryon Street, Whakarewarewa Village, Rotorua, New Zealand
Postal Address: PO Box 6148, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, New Zealand
You can check their website for booking and for more information. http://www.whakarewarewa.com/)
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