You cannot visit New Zealand and not take in some of the cultures of the Maori people.
So the opportunity came to visit the Tamaki Maori Village down in Rotorua.
So you have the choice of either making your way there or getting a bus pick up from your accommodation. We chose the pickup, one because we had heard of a very quirky driver you could get, and two it meant we could have a drink if we wanted to and not have to worry about driving back.
So Dennis was our driver. The one we had read about on TripAdvisor. Dennis is such a fantastic character, cracking jokes and giving us all some information regarding the Maori people. You take a short trip to the ticket office in town (so those who have not yet paid, can pay), and then you are off for the 15-20 minute drive.
While on the journey, you have to nominate a chief. You will be the chief of the bus, and represent the visiting people at the welcoming ceremony. I would highly recommend putting yourself forward for this. When you arrive, you lead your ‘people’ to the opening and await the Maori people’s arrival by boat. It’s at this point you are warned, no talking or laughing during the ceremony. As to do so is to show complete disrespect.
Through the night you are shown the following;
- Different houses, showing you various areas of the Maori culture (such as being taught the Haka (war dance), weaving, the meaning of the Maori tattoos and a few more).
- Shown the unveiling of the Hangi (cooked food underground).
- A 30 minute Maori culture performance (including dance, song, and stories).
With all this culminating in a Hangi buffet feast. We had two different types of meat, fish, and mussels served with veg and potatoes. Dessert was passion fruit pavlova, steamed pudding and custard, and cream.
You had a closing speech and a very special performance from the Chiefs that were either nominated or choose on the bus journey in.
We would recommend the Tamaki Maori Village to get some real insight into the culture of the Maori people. You can purchase your tickets from the website.