Our Māori culture influences our arts, language, kai (food) and more. If you are intrigued by the roots of Kiwi culture then you could put the following on your list of to-dos.
1. Visit a Māori village
Smack bang in the middle of the North Island is Rotorua (Kiwis call it Rotovegas, cheekily). There is plenty to discover here, including the heart of New Zealand’s Māori culture. In the Rotorua area, there are a few Māori villages where people still live according to their origins.
A large part of Māori culture is great hospitality, and in the Tamaki Māori Village, which was voted in the top 10 experiences of the world, you can enjoy it too. The visit starts with an enlivening welcome where you may be chosen as the ‘chief of your tribe’, then followed by a tour through the village. Here, you will be shown traditional arts and crafts, learn about Māori face tattoos (tā moko), and how to do the infamous haka, which we are known for globally.
2. Eat a Hāngi
Hāngi is the traditional Māori way of cooking food in an earth oven. This is done by digging a pit in the ground and filling it with piping hot stones.
The food is wrapped in banana or palm leaves and then put on top of the stones. More leaves cover up the pit to keep the heat contained.
The fare slow-cooks in the earth for three to four hours before it is uncovered. The result is delicious kai, all infused with a delightful smoky aroma.
3. Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum or Wellington’s Te Papa Museum
Both museums reveal a lot about the roots of Kiwi culture, including the Māori wharenui (‘big house’), the waka (canoes), and that which Māori hold dear.
Te Papa has more than 30,000 taonga (cultural treasures) showcased in the Taonga Māori Collection and is worth the trip to Wellington.
Māori Marae in Te Papa Museum