Te Araroa Trail – Rotorua
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
I arrived in Rotorua about 6:00 pm last night and, after checking into my room, headed to the Polynesian Spa to soak in the hot baths.
They had several pools with temperatures varying from 100 to 104 degrees F and both acidic (sulphuric) pools and alkaline pools.
I spent a couple of hours there unwinding from the days / week’s activities.
Tuesday morning I woke up to rain and it was forecast to rain all day. I decided to head back to the spa to soak some more in the spas.
My big plan for today was a visit to a native Māori village and find out about their culture and history. I took the Te-Pa-Tu tour which included the cultural experience as well as a dinner.
I arrived at the meeting place for the bus early and was asked if I would be Chief for our Iwi or “tribe” (tour group) at the village. I agreed with some hesitation.
When we arrived we were approached by the tribe of Māori in traditional dress. The greeting was a show of power by the tribe with an offering of a fern leaf to determine if we came in peace or war. As Chief of our Iwi I accepted the fern leaf with my right hand (showing that I had no weapon) and was accepted by the Chief.
The tour then spilt up into smaller groups so they could demonstrate what life was like in a traditional Maori Iwi. The Iwi’s spent a lot of time in training to protect their land and women from warring tribes. We were shown several activities that they would perform as training. It was very hands on so I wasn’t able to get many pictures.
After the demonstrations we headed to a meeting house where we were entertained with dance and music. They asked if anyone wanted to participate in a Huka (war dance) and I climbed up on the stage to make a fool of myself with several other volunteers.
With a very short lesson they showed us the motions and we performed a Huka for the group. I’m sure it was not the highlight of their evening.
Leaving the meeting house we headed to the dining room which was set up very lavishly. The food was a combination of Māori and other South Pacific Islanders food and there was more than enough to fill me up.
Dinner concluded the visit and we loaded back on the bus and headed back into town. I was very impressed with the event and efforts taken by the Māori to keep there heritage alive in New Zealand