Where to go to see the Haka: A heart-pounding Haka welcomes you to Rotorua as you become swept up in the magic of Māori culture in this town. Visit the living Māori village while you’re here and the arts and crafts centre too.
3. Ta Moko
Traditionally, Ta Moko was an important cultural representation of heritage, personal rank and wisdom. Now, these tattoos are most commonly worn on faces, bottoms and thighs for men, and on the lips and chin for women. Before European colonisation, the tattoos were a complex series of designs that were carved into the skin using a sharp implement, usually made from sharp bone or sharks teeth, which was coated in ink and then tapped into the skin. The Māori people consider the head to be the most sacred part of the body and this is why that face and head is a popular place for tattoos.
Where to see a traditional Ta Moko: The Bay of Islands is a significant area in New Zealand as this is where a treaty was signed between the Māori and the Europeans. There are traditional ceremonies performed here, with some of the locals wearing their traditional Ta Moko with pride.
fKnown as the Māori art of carving, Whakairo is not just visually beautiful, but it tells an important narrative that expresses personal allegories and cultural histories. These stories are passed down from generation to generation and are generally carved by men on a series of objects including weapons, tools, instruments, buildings and canoes. Styles vary between tribes, too, while different figures represent different meanings.
Where to witness traditional Whakairo: Head to Rotorua where the locals invite travellers to gain a better understanding of these traditional methods and can watch the artists at work.
The method of cooking known as Hangi has been used for thousands of years by the Māori culture, but is generally reserved for special occasions. The method of creating the perfect Hangi was perfected over many years and passed down from generation to generation. The process remains largely similar and includes preparing meats, potatoes and vegetables by placing them into a pit dug into the ground, on top of hot stones and untreated, both of which should burn for long periods of time. Three hours later and you have a meal fit for a whole community.
Where to enjoy a traditional Hangi: An evening of history and culture awaits you in Rotorua at the Tamaki Family Marae where you can wander through the ancient forest village before enjoying an authentic Māori Hangi meal.
Experience these traditions with AAT Kings’ 18-day Best of New Zealand Guided Holiday (with free airfares).
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