August 9th is celebrated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, a tribute to the wonderful indigenous communities around the world. Maori culture and values shape the everyday life of people in New Zealand.
Since time immemorial, numerous indigenous groups have followed and continue to follow their ancestral rituals, preserving a piece of their history through changing times. One such country that continues to protect, preserve and promote the indigenous people and their culture is New Zealand.
For millennia, Maori has been the Tangata Whenua, the indigenous people of Aotearoa. Arriving here from the Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki over 1000 years ago, the great explorer Kupe, was the first Maori to reach these lands. Transport yourself on a journey of discovery, from past to present, with these unique Maori cultural experiences:
Meet Tāne Mahuta, the magnificent Kauri tree:
Standing tall and proud in the Waipoua Forest is Tāne Mahuta, one of New Zealand’s tallest native kauri trees. Embark on an intimate tour through the forest with Footprints Waipoua. Discover the ancient kauri forest with local Maori storytellers who will guide you at twilight, so you can witness the stillness of the forest as it transforms from day into night. Learn how the forest plays an important role in the lives of local Maori and the ecosystem.
Learn about the Treaty of Waitangi:
As the founding document of New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi holds great importance in New Zealand’s history. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 and was an agreement between the British Crown and a large number of Maori chiefs.
In Northland, take a guided tour through the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, explore the heritage buildings and get up close to the historic war canoe.
See Maori art come alive and witness the wonder of geothermal activity:
In Rotorua, you will find the geothermal wonderland Te Puia. Te Puia is not only a place to experience the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and bubbling mud pools but a place where Maori arts are kept alive and taught at the New Zealand Maori Art and Crafts Institute.
Visiting Te Puia gives you the opportunity to see talented carvers at work, turning pieces of wood into intricately detailed art, and feel the power of the geothermal activity.
See two oceans collide where Maori spirits begin their final journey:
At Cape Reinga, the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents. At the northernmost tip of the Cape is a gnarled pohutukawa tree, believed to be over 800 years old. According to Maori oral history, the spirits of deceased Maori leap from this tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
While it’s not quite the most northern point of New Zealand (North Cape is further north, but it’s a scientific reserve and not open to the public), Cape Reinga is definitely the end of the road.
Kayak your way to see huge Maori rock carvings:
In the late 1970s master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell completed his 10-year training period with Maori elders. He came to his grandmother’s land at Lake Taupō to mark the occasion with a significant carving.
Matahi decided to carve a likeness of Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Maori navigator who guided the Tūwharetoa and Te Arawa tribes to the Taupō area over a thousand years ago. The main carving is over 10 metres high and took four summers to complete. You can marvel at this spectacular Maori rock carving at Mine Bay as you take a kayak or boat tour around the scenic Western Bays of Lake Taupō.
This August, as the New Zealand borders, have opened up, come and experience the mindful and intriguing Maori way of life.
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