Maori culture

Māori history and culture


Rotorua Museum
Princess Gate, Government Gardens, Rotorua

Museum building closed until further notice due to earthquake strengthening.
Here you will enter the amazing world of the Arawa iwi (tribe), the original inhabitants of the area. Follow their dramatic journey, from origins far across the Pacific Ocean to their lives in Rotorua today. You will also discover epic stories that have shaped Rotorua and its people: the poignant love tale of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, the world-famous Pink and White Terraces and the explosive 1886 Mount Tarawera eruption and its tragic aftermath. Innovative displays, fascinating cinema experiences and informative guided tours help you discover the amazing stories of this unique region. Five changing galleries and a varied programme of events ensure there is always something new to see.


Tyron Street, Rotorua

For centuries Whakarewarewa Village has been home to the Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao People. They invite you to share in their everyday life and experience the sights, smells and sounds of their unique cultural way of living amongst this geothermal area. Take a guided walk around the steaming lakes and thermal pools, witness erupting geysers, learn about Māori culture and crafts or taste a traditional hangi or corn cob cooked from the natural boiling waters.

Whakarewarewa is a landscape of geothermal activity that is continually changing. Māori cultural performances can be seen daily at 11.15am and 2pm. Traditional Māori crafts can be purchased from the gift shop.


Te Puia Māori Arts and Crafts Institute
Hemo Road, Rotorua

Te Puia offers you, through our people, Māori art and onsite experiences, an opportunity to sense our history and feel our living culture. You will walk in the footprints of our Māori ancestors and see their heritage in the faces of their descendants alongside you. Te Puia is home to the national schools of carving and weaving. When you visit, you can watch and interact with master carvers, weavers and their students, and purchase the finished artworks in our Taonga Gallery Gift Shop.
Te Puia also has a Kiwi house which is now a breeding centre for our National endangered bird. You can also witness the world-famous Puhutu Geyser which erupts once or twice each hour to heights of up to 30 metres. Te Po is an evening cultural experience which is a feast of storytelling, entertainment and Māori cuisine including the traditional hangi.


Mitai Māori Village
Fairy Springs Roads, next to Fairy Springs, Rotorua

An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Māori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Enter the world of Mitai. 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). 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.


Joe Kemp - Contemporary Māori Sculptor and Carver
453 SH30, Rotoma

On the shores of Lake Rotoma (approx 30 minutes drive from Rotorua City) you'll find the Te Haa Gallery of local sculptor Joe Kemp. Behind Joe's home is his outdoor gallery of stunning contemporary Māori sculptures and carvings wonderfully displayed amongst a natural bush setting. Look up into the tree canopy and see various artworks suspended in the air. Walk around the landscaped pathways amongst the sculptures made of wood and stone and spot the carved rock faces within the forest.

Most of the works are his own with a selection of works by other Māori artists.

This gallery is free to visit and most pieces are for sale. Local delivery or international shipping can be arranged.

The Te Haa Gallery is an ever-evolving work of art. Open daily.

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