Experiencing Maori Culture

Maori cultural experiences rate highly on the highlights reel of travellers to New Zealand, and no matter where you are in the country, it’s likely a thrilling cultural experience is not far away.

Marae Visits The marae (meeting place) is a central element of Maori culture. Visits must be arranged through a guide, who will brief you on correct protocol. Cultural Performances Based on traditional arts, but incorporating contemporary elements, kapa haka is a popular performance art combining theatre and song. Hangi The hangi is a social occasion where food is cooked in an underground oven: a hole is dug and the food (such as potatoes, pork and kumara) is placed in woven baskets and buried with hot rocks, so the meal cooks in its own steam. Guided Tours Maori people have a spiritual relationship with the natural environment. Go walking with a local guide for an insight into the land’s history and native flora and fauna. Replica Villages See how New Zealand’s tangata whenua (people of the land) lived in pre-colonial times, join in a hangi and watch performance art. Arts & Crafts Maori developed powerful artistic forms, such as carving and weaving. You can admire stunning examples in museums, or see magnificently carved meeting houses and traditional canoes. Join a workshop to create your own work of art.

Maori Culture Around the Country

As a nation, New Zealand embraces the Maori element of its culture, and in recent times there has been a resurgence of Maori language and culture.

Waitangi National Trust [Northland] Site of the Treaty of Waitangi signing in 1840.
Auckland Museum [Auckland] Over 2,000 Maori artefacts including the last great war canoe.
Hells Gate [Rotorua] Healing waters and mud used for over 700 years.
Te Puia [Rotorua] Maori artists at work and guided geothermal tour.
Whakarewarewa Thermal Village [Rotorua] Living village in a thermal heritage area.
Tamaki Maori Village [Rotorua] Traditional food and performance.
The Rotorua Museum of Art & History [Rotorua] History of Te Arawa Maori and Mt Tarawera eruption.
Waimarama Maori Tours at Hakikino [Hawke’s Bay] Cultural experience on ancestral lands.
Puke Ariki [Taranaki] Museum, info centre and library.
Te Papa [Wellington] Interactive displays of Maori culture and history.
Pataka [Wellington] World-class exhibitions of Maori art and culture.
Maori Tours Kaikoura [Kaikoura] Local Maori introduce visitors to the region’s history.
Ko Tane – The Maori Experience [Canterbury] Cultural experience, replica village and dining.
Kiwi Haka [Queenstown] Live show performed by a Kapa Haka group.