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Maori culture

Experiencing New Zealand Māori culture should be on your Aotearoa -- 'land of the long white cloud' -- to-do list.

Māori are the 'people of the land' (New Zealand) – the 'tangata whenua'. With a rich culture spanning over 700 years of settlement, they have unique customs, dances, language and beliefs.

There are many opportunities to experience the Maori culture, or Māoritanga, during your visit to New Zealand.

Discover some of the best Māori culture experiences on offer here.

Activity ideas: Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. See warriors in traditional dress and glowworms in their natural habitat. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.
More »

Activity ideas: Mitai Maori Village & Rainbow Springs Combo
Mitai Maori Village & Rainbow Springs Combo

An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Maori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress, paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don't miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During the cultural performance, you'll learn about maori history, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You'll be amazed by the spine tingling haka finale. The Mitai family is proud to have created a sacred and spiritual place that offers you an indigenous cultural experience like no other. You'll also enjoy a fully guided tour of Rainbow Springs under lights including a walk through the Kiwi enclosure and bird aviaries. (Rainbow Springs tour is approximately 45 minutes) More »

Activity ideas: Tamaki Maori Village
Tamaki Maori Village

Tamaki Maori Village is a wonderful and entertaining insight into the culture both past and present of the Maori people and is enjoyed by all. More »

Activity ideas: Waitangi Guided Tour & Cultural Performance
Waitangi Guided Tour & Cultural Performance

Waitangi is just 2km north of Paihia in the Bay of Islands and is arguably one of New Zealand's most historic sites. It was here in 1840 that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and the British government. Still on the 400 hectare reserve is the Georgian style home of James Busby, a fully-carved Maori meeting house and Ngatokimatawhaorua, a 37 metre kauri waka (canoe). The latter is one of the largest ever carved and was crafted to mark the centenary of the signing of the treaty in 1940. First enjoy a guided tour where you'll learn about the history, discover the stories, personalities and events that shaped New Zealand. The guided tour takes you through the artefacts gallery, past the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe to the Flagpole, the Treaty House and the carved Meeting House.  After your guided tour you'll be treated to a spine tingling challenge as the cultural performance begins, this is followed by a full performance inside the carved Meeting House including waiata (singing), poi, stick games, Māori weaponry display and the famous haka. More »

Activity ideas: Te Po - Indigenous Evening Experience
Te Po - Indigenous Evening Experience

Enjoy an in depth experience of the customs and traditions of Māori, with a traditional pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremony), a warrior's challenge and a full kapa haka (Māori performing arts) concert.  Feeding guests is regarded by Māori as an honour and a sign of a tribe’s mana (standing), so a sumptuous banquet is provided during the evening. This banquet combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hangi (earth-cooked oven meal). Following dessert, you will be transported to enjoy the spectacular lighting of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Guests can wander around the illuminated natural attractions, including our world famous Pohutu geyser, while enjoying more Māori-inspired delicacies and a hot drink. More »

Activity ideas: Te Puia Experience and Cultural Performance
Te Puia Experience and Cultural Performance

A visit to Rotorua would not be complete without visiting Te Puia the premier Maori Arts and Cultural centre. Many of the guides you meet are third and fourth generation Rotorua guides and the stories they share have been handed down through their families.  You will get to visit the Kiwi House to see and learn about New Zealand's national flightless bird, there is a kiwi specialist on hand to answer all you questions.  You then explore Te Whakarewarewa thermal valley, this unique geothermal reserve is home to the Pohutu geyser which erupts up to 20 times a day.  The highlight of the day is experiencing the fascinating Maori culture first hand.  Te Puia is charged with keeping Maori traditions, crafts and art alive – to achieve this it is home to the New Zealand National Carving and Weaving Schools (Te Wananga Whakairo Rakau and Te Rito the weaving school.  You can watch these unique crafts-people as they share their skills with the next generation.  To complete your Maori immersion experience, you will experience a moving cultural performance in the beautifully carved marae (meeting place). Visitors are treated to harmonies, the seductive poi dance, the ferocious haka (war challenge), and the complex tititorea (stick games). More »

Activity ideas: Half Day Maori Tour
Half Day Maori Tour

Prepare to be entertained and enlightened when you join members of a Kaikoura Maori family for a half day tour. Right from the start you’ll be joining in on customs and traditions, with all your questions answered. Starting at Nga Niho Pa Site, their ancestral homeland and then on to other important sites you’ll be presented opportunities to try hands on activities like weaving with harakeke the native flax plant and learning a Maori greeting. Following a stop for a sumptuous bite to eat, you’ll get back on the mini coach and take a short ride to one of the Kaikōura bush walkways where family members share traditional knowledge on the use of trees and plants as food and medicine. This is a real cultural exchange where you'll gain rare insight into Maori traditions and way of life. More »

Activity ideas: Wairakei Terraces Maori Cultural Experience
Wairakei Terraces Maori Cultural Experience

Journey into the unique and mysterious world of the Maori people. The Marae is central to Maori culture, heritage, lifestyle, customs and ritual. In the short time guests (Manuhiri) are with their hosts (Tangata Whenua), they are welcomed and embraced, have the chance to stand and speak on the Marae during the time of Whaikorero (formal speech), press noses in the sacred and traditional Hongi - the Maori way of greeting which reinforces the uniting of visitor and host in friendship and welcome.  After the formal greeting you will be guided through the geothermal and Maori cultural walkway where you will hear the stories and history of New Zealand, Ngati Tuwharetoa and the various art forms featured in the Maori village.  Then you make your way to the dining room (Whare Kai) where a meal that has been cooked in a traditional ground oven (Hangi), awaits you. The evening is brought to a dramatic climax with a spectacular performance of Song, Dance and Haka, a unique and emotional experience that will not easily be forgotten. This experience is intense, powerful and emotional and will leave you with lasting memories of a culture that is alive and growing. More »

Activity ideas: Ko Tane Maori Experience
Ko Tane Maori Experience

Welcome to Ko Tane Living Maori Village at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve ,  where maori culture and conservation meet to give you a unique glimpse into the way of life of the South Island Ngai Tahu Maori people before the arrival of the Europeans.  Experience the thrill of the wero, the traditional challenge to visitors, as you are brought into the sacred precinct of Tane, Maori God of the Forests. Hear the haunting traditional call, the Karanga, performed by a wahine (woman) as the powhiri (ritual of arrival) begins, allowing you to enter our hidden enclave.

You will be invited to take part in a performance of the haka (men) or the poi dance (women), and be entertained by the songs and games performed by the kapa haka (Maori cultural performance)  group.  You will dine and enjoy our four course hangi cooked dinner (earth oven), experiencing a hangi is another great way to interact with our culture and the Ko Tane performers, dining with family and new found friends.

An optional extra is the Guided Kiwi Tour through the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. More »

Activity ideas: Maori Waka Canoe Tour
Maori Waka Canoe Tour

This interactive Waka experience provides a rare and unique insight into the ancient customs, rituals and traditions of the Ngapuhi tribe. Join them on a Waka voyage and they promise you will leave with everlasting memories which will remain with you forever. Meet with local Ngapuhi whose traditional knowledge and storytelling skills are legendary in the Bay of Islands. Their ancient histories and stories are shared with you as you paddle together aboard the 50 ft Waka Taua (Maori War Canoe) on the tidal estuaries of the Waitangi River. This tour activity is an interactive and educational Waka (Traditional Maori war canoe) experience with customers learning traditional paddle techniques, Waka manoeuvres, chants and Haka whilst absorbing the breath taking natural beauty of the Waitangi river eco systems, native flora and fauna, our living landscapes.  The first leg of your voyage has your ornate waka gliding up the beautiful tidal estuaries of the Waitangi. Engage in conversation with your Maori host who will share with you, personal tribal and family histories from an ancient past. With the splendour of panoramic views, vibrant and stunning colours from the native forest stretching the length of the river banks and beyond, the first leg of your voyage culminates with our arrival in the pool of the sacred and spiritual Haruru waterfalls. The magic of this place is brought to life by the skilful oratory of the story tellers who accompany you.

Again  take up the paddle and the voyage continues passing by the family Marae and sacred shrine of worship, nestled on the riverbank of the Waitangi. See the native bird and fish wildlife, or maybe stop by the fishing net and check to see if fish are caught? Practice your new found traditional Maori paddling skills, learn a haka all while engaging in meaningful unscripted discussion with your Warrior host’s. More »

Activity ideas: Restless Native - Maori Culture Day
Restless Native - Maori Culture Day

If you want an authentic Maori cultural experience without the crowds, let us take you into heartland Māori New Zealand where you will encounter a very special place and people.  You will be picked up in Rotorua and driven to the breath-taking coastal town of Whakatane - New Zealand's oldest continually occupied settlement and home of the Ngāti Awa tribe.  The all-day package includes Maori mythology, performing arts, musical instruments, fishing practices, artefacts and weapons. It concludes with a hangi, which guests cook before a soak in a hotpool.  Guests have every opportunity to engage with the Maori culture and group numbers are limited to 10 ensuring visitors connect on a personal level to the land, the culture and the people of Whakatane. More »

Activity ideas: Waitangi Hangi and Concert
Waitangi Hangi and Concert

Waitangi is just 2km north of Paihia in the Bay of Islands and is arguably one of New Zealand's most historic sites. It was here in 1840 that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori and the British government. Still on the 400 hectare reserve is the Georgian style home of James Busby, a fully-carved Maori meeting house and Ngatokimatawhaorua, a 37 metre kauri waka (canoe). The latter is one of the largest ever carved and was crafted to mark the centenary of the signing of the treaty in 1940. You will experience Waitangi as part of an intimate Hangi and concert evening. Begin at the Whare Waka Café with the unveiling of the Hangi, followed by a themed Cultural Performance in the carved Meeting House. After the show you will be escorted back to the Whare Waka Café for your Hangi dinner. More »

Activity ideas: Walk with the Ancestors Private Tour
Walk with the Ancestors Private Tour

You begin your tour on the shores of Waimarama beach in the Hawkes Bay, where 800 years ago the magnificent migration waka Takitimu came ashore for the first time. Here these travellers established the great Maori fortress of Hakikino.  Leaving the coast your local Maori guide will take you to explore the site of Hakikino. Walk the pathways through the last stands of native forest and wetland areas, gaining an understanding of how people lived here and why this fortress settlement was able to dominate the area for over 300 years.  Next you’ll return to the present day Marae for a glimpse of how the people of Hakikino live today and where the cultural heartbeat beats strongly and proudly.  One of the local elders will share with you their knowledge passed from their ancestors on bush lore, folk stories, local Maori culture and language. This tour provides you with an insider’s perspective on being Maori from a unique and personal point of view. More »

Activity ideas: Te Puia Interactive Maori Experience & Lunch
Te Puia Interactive Maori Experience & Lunch

Enjoy food that has been cooked using the geothermal energy used for centuries, quite literally, giving you a taste of Maori culture. Since earliest settlement within Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, the local Maori people have cooked using the steam and hot water naturally available within the thermally active landscape. Steambox utilises a favourite Ngā Whā (Steam vent), which is located in the geothermal area near the famous Pohutu Geyser. You choose what you want cooked for your lunch before heading off on a special guided tour of Te Puia. This begins with an interactive session where you learn to weave flax, then a tour of the prestigious carving and weaving schools. Next explore the geothermal valley, the Kiwi house, mud pools and hot springs.  You will then see your lunch lifted from the steaming Ngā Whā, before you sit down for a delicious picnic lunch on the geyser terrace. The distinctive flavours imparted by this cooking method will surprise and delight you.  More »

Activity ideas: Mitere Mitai Combo
Mitere Mitai Combo

The journey begins with a visit to the historic Ohinemutu Village which is situated on the shores of Lake Rotorua. Here you will be invited to the sacred village of Ohinemutu to learn first hand about the customs, protocols, history and legends of this significant region. Take the opportunity to ask intimate questions about the Maori people, but more importantly learn how the past influences their future as modern Maori in society today. View the majestic Tamatekapua Meeting House and the St Faiths Church which is rich in history.

An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Maori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress, paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don't miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During our cultural performance, you'll learn about our past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). More »

Activity ideas: Ohinemutu Maori Village
Ohinemutu Maori Village

Ohinemutu Maori Village sits on site of the original Maori settlement in the Rotorua district. It is just a short walk from the city centre along the shores of Lake Rotorua. Here you will find some fine examples of 19th century Maori woodcarvings. The Tudor style St. Faiths Church also sits within the village. Built in 1910, the interior features traditional Maori carvings and woven panels. A stained glass window at the rear of the church gives the impression of Christ walking on the waters of the lake. More »