Welcome to the world of the Maori

This is an example of a Maori carving. Carving skills are taught only to men of who can claim true Maori ancestry at the New Zealand Maori and Crafts Institute in Rotorua.

The carvings symbolize the life of the Maori. Our guide at the Institute informed us that the showing of the tongue was a man's way of showing disdain. It is not ladylike for a woman to show her tongue; instead she rolls her eyes when displeased or angry. At the institute, tourists are shown how the traditional Maori skirt is fashioned out of plants and then baked in the sun to dry.

The Maori Hangi feast consists of foods cooked in a traditional earth oven heated by the boiling waters of Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve. A concert after the feast portrays the lives and customs of the Maori people. Included are songs of war, life, love, and a tribute to those who have passed on.

Thermal activity is so great in the area that people living in the Maori village next to the reserve have had the floors rot under their homes because of erupting steam under the floors.

(Right) The meetinghouse of the Maori is an example of Maori architecture. People entering must remove their shoes as a sign of respect. There are many examples of Maori architecture on the grounds of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute including dwelling places of high-ranking officials, the canoes the Maori used when first coming to New Zealand, and a weaving shed where the Maori skirts are woven. The Maori were so resourceful in their carvings that nothing was wasted. For example, the flagpole that is located next to the Maori meetinghouse was the center of the tree that was used for a canoe.