|Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in Rotorua, New Zealand|
The Maori Arts & Crafts Institute (MACI) was established in 1963 to preserve the heritage of Maori people, encourage Maori culture and appreciation, and perpetuate the skills of Maori arts and crafts.
Tours are available and include the history of the migration of the Maori, the Institute and Arts and Crafts Gallery, interaction with Maori carvers, weavers and sculptors at work, a visit to the Rotowhio Marae (sacred meeting house), the Kiwi House, and the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Forty five minute performances of Maori song and dance including weaponry, haka, poi and traditional song and dance are offered daily at noon. In the summer, a three-hour evening performance is offered which starts with a powhiri and wero, and includes a cultural performance, audience participation and hangi (feast).
The Maori Arts & Crafts Institute is located next to the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. It is the largest thermal area in the Southern Hemisphere and the location of the only geysers in the Southern Hemisphere. Pohutu Geyser (meaning Big Spash) is the largest - shooting up to 30 meters high 10-20 times a day. The Prince of Wales Geyser is located next to Pohutu and is smaller. There are also silica terraces, bubbling mud pools and unique geothermal vegetation. The Maori historically used the hot springs to cook in and bathe in.
The Maori Arts & Crafts Institute has a sign with the longest word I have ever seen: Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao ( The Gathering Place for the War Parties of Wahiao). Wahiao was an ancestor to the people of this valley who now belong to the Ngati Wahiao, a subtribe of Te Arawa, one of the seven original waka (canoe) which brought Maori from Hawaiiki to New Zealand. Before going into battle, Wahiao and his warriors would perform a fierce haka (posture dance) more often than not scaring off his enemy before a blow was struck. One of the last strongholds of Wahiao, Te Puia Pa (fortified village), was located in the geothermal area.
Legend of Hinemoa & Tutanekai
At one time there lived a beautiful and high ranking young maiden by the name of Hinemoa, the daughter of a very influential chief at the time. They lived at Owhata on the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua. Because of her rank, Hinemoa was declared puhi (tapu or sacred). A husband would be chosen for her when she reached maturity by the elders in her hapu (subtribe) and her family. Many people came from far and wide to seek the hand of Hinemoa whose beauty and grace were well known. However none of the suitors gained the approval of the tribe.
On Mokoia Island in the centre of Lake Rotorua lived a family of several brothers. Tutanekai was the youngest of them. Their mother had had an illicit affair with Tuwharetoa who hailed from another tribe and of their union had Tutanekai been born. Her husband, however agreed to take her back and to raise Tutanekai as his own son.
Each of the elder brothers had declared their love for Hinemoa and set out to win her hand. None of them won approval from Hinemoa's people.
There were in those times many meetings to discus matters of state regarding the tribe, and at these meetings many young chiefs saw Hinemoa and fell in love with her. Such was the fate of Tutanekai who knew because of his lowly birth would never win approval from Hinemoa's people. Tutanekai was extremely handsome and excelled at the games of the time which Maori used to develop co-ordination and skills for battle. They were played at gatherings such as this. It was Tutanekai's prowess at these games and his good looks which caught Hinemoa's eye. She fell in love with Tutanekai also and at each subsequent tribal meeting they would fall more deeply for one another. They were able only to convey their feelings through furtive glances on longing and never once had the opportunity to speak with one another.
It was such a sad state of affairs, as neither could see any way their love would ever be requited. Tutanekai would sit on the shores of Mokoia Island with his friend Tiki and play sad music on his flute. The music would waft, on still evenings, across the lake to where Hinemoa sat aching also with passion. She was filled with sadness and knew she could never marry anyone but Tutanekai. Her people began to suspect this was the case, and in order to prevent her sneaking away to her secret love, they pulled all the canoes up on to the shore, so they were too heavy for her to move alone.
Night after night she listened to the strains of her would be lover until her heart was overcome with sadness and she knew she could take no more. It was then she decided, if she could not use a canoe, she would have to swim. The next night, she told her people she was going to watch the evening entertainment, but in fact she headed for the lakefront, after collecting six calabashes from the cooking house. She rested at the rock Iri iri kapua (which can still be seen at Owhata) while she made the calabashes into primitive style waterwings.
She then slipped in to the water at a beach called Wairerewai and swam for Mokoia. It was of course very dark,
so she was reliant upon the strains of the flute played by her love Tutanekai. She rested at a large stump in
the lake briefly, and carried onward guided by the music. She finally made it to Mokoia Island, but she had
become so cold during her swim, she headed straight for the hot pool Waikimihia, near Tutanekai's house. Once
she had warmed herself, Hinemoa became conscious she was naked and was too shy to approach Tutanekai's
house without clothes. It so happened at this time T utanekai became thirsty, so he sent his slave down to fetch
a calabash of water. The slave had to pass quite close to where Hinemoa sat warming herself. As he passed
the pool, a gruff voice called out to him 'Mo wai te wai?' (For whom is the water?) The slave answered; Mo
Tutanekai' (For Tutanekai) 'give it to me' demanded Hinemoa, and as soon as the slave did so she smashed the
calabash on the side of the pool. When the slave returned to Tutanekai and told him what had happened,
Tutanekai made him go again. Again Hinemoa challenged the slave and once again smashed the calabash.
This time Tutanekai became angry and decided to go down to the pool himself. He dressed
himself, and took his mere (greenstone weapon) and headed for the pool. Once there, he challenged whoever was in the pool to
The next morning the people of the pa rose to prepare the morning meal and remarked that this day Tutanekai
was sleeping late. He always rose first. After a while, his father began to think him ill so sent a slave to check
on him. The slave went to Tutanekai's whare (house) and as he peeked in saw four feet instead of two poking
out from beneath the covers. The slave ran back to report this to his master and was sent back to investigate
further. It was then he recognised Hinemoa. Such was his surprise, he began to call out
"It is Hinemoa. It is Hinemoa who lies with Tutanekai". The brothers would not believe the slave, and nor did any other, but in the
commotion, Tutanekai indeed stepped from his house with Hinemoa on his arm. It was then, the people noticed
canoes heading toward the island, and knowing it would be Hinemoa's family, they feared war and anticipated
Hinemoa would be taken from Tutanekai forever. However, upon arrival there was much rejoicing
between the two tribes, and lasting peace was forged between the two tribes.
all photos by Julie Register
|The Hei Matau (fish hook) has its roots in the Maori fishing traditions. It symbolizes determination, safety over water, perseverance, strength, courage, provision and prosperity. Another common symbol is the koru (fern frond spiral) which symbolizes new life, new beginnings, growth, tranquility, harmony and peace. The two symbols are often combined.|
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