Rotorua Maori legends and stories
To expand and read all about these Maori legends, click on the heading of each story.
According to Maori mythology, heaven and earth were once joined.
other in a tight embrace.
Photo from Wikipedia
Ranginui, the Sky father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth mother, held each other in a tight embrace.
They had many children who, lost in the darkness between their parents, began to wonder how it would be to live in light. They talked amongst themselves whether it would be better to slay their parents or push them apart.
Tumatauenga, the fiercest of Rangi and Papa's children, spoke first: “Let's slay them” he suggested but Tane Mahuta said “No, it is best that we push them apart to let the heaven stand well above us and the earth lie under our feet. Let the sky become like a stranger and the earth remain close to us as our nursing mother.”
All the brothers agreed except Tawhirimatea, god of winds and storms. Fearing that his kingdom was about to be overthrown, he grieved at the thought that his parents were to be wrenched apart. However the others put their plan in to action.
Firstly Rongomatane, god of cultivated food and crops of man, rose up and pushed at his parents to part them. Next Tangaroa, god of sea and reptiles, rose up and he too tried to push his parents apart. Haumiatiketike, god of food that grows without cultivation, was next but he had no affect either. Each brother tried in vain including Tumatauenga, god of fierce human beings.
Lastly, Tane Mahuta, the god of forests, birds and insects, tried to part his parents. He paused before planting his head firmly on his mother earth, Papatuanuku. He stretched his feet upward to his sky father, Ranginui. With all the strength of his legs and back he forced, pushed and struggled to wrench them free from each other. With each tear, Rangi and Papa cried out with grief and pain, frightened by their impending separation.
No sooner had heaven and earth parted, than the multitudes of human beings created within the darkness were discovered.
Then Tawhirimatea, god of winds and storms who had wanted to keep his parents together, began to feel a fierce desire to wage war on his brothers; he dreads the world will become too beautiful so he ascends to his Sky father and dispatches his brothers to the four ends of creation to become the four winds.
The Earth mother and Sky father remain separated to this day. Yet Ranginui and Papatuanuku’s love continues and their grief ongoing. The soft warm sighs of Papatuanuku and her loving bosom still rise up to meet Ranginui, ascending from the beautiful mountains and valleys. These sighs, men call mist. And from the vast heaven, through the long nights of separation from this beloved, Ranginui drops frequent tears upon his wife's bosom: man calls these dew drops.
There are few places in the world where thermal phenomena of such intensity, is as extensive and so easily seen as here in Rotorua. To those in the past who had none of the power resources or technology that we know today this bounty of nature must indeed have been regarded as a gift from the gods.
The earliest legends speak of a man named Ngatoroirangi, a tohunga (priest) who guided Te Arawa canoe to this country. Anxious to explore he travelled east from Maketu, down the coast until he reached what is now known as the Tarawera River. Naming it Te Awa-o-te-atua he turned inland and followed it upstream until he reached Ruawahia, the central peak of what we generally call Mount Tarawera. Here he had a remarkable experience.
He met a spirit in the form of a person named Tama-o-Hoi, who objected to Ngatoroirangi trespassing over what he claimed as his country. He tried with his sorcery to destroy Ngatoroirangi but his power was no match for the tohunga from Hawaiki. With a much superior spell Ngatoroirangi caused Tama-o-Hoi to sink into the ground then continued his journey.
The great eruption of Tarawera Mountain in 1886 was blamed by some on this Tama-o-Hoi who, it was claimed, was so enraged at having been so long confined in the ground gave vent to his feelings by causing that disaster.
Ngatoroirangi finally reached the magnificent mountains that now form our Tongariro National Park. In order to view the extent of this new country he climbed towards the summit of Tongariro, the highest of the three mountains there. As he neared the top he was affected by the intense cold which was so severe he feared he would die. In desperation he prayed to his gods for help and in answer the heat he needed so badly was brought to him by a small party of super beings. From far-off Hawaiki they came, travelling beneath both the sea and land. Wherever they paused and rose to the surface they left part of the fire they carried. At Whakaari (White Island) some 40km off the coast; at Tikitere, Te Whakarewarewa; Waimangu; Waiotapu, Orakei Korako, Wairakei, Tokaanu and finally the three mountains - Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.
Ngatoroirangi was, of course, saved and the chain of thermal activity has been of great value to the people of New Zealand every since.
Source: The book Te Whakarewarewa by Don Stafford
To experience this Rotorua story 'first-hand', go see the Rotorua stories audio visual at the Rotorua Museum.
For the full version, read the next legend.
How the fire demons brought geothermal to New Zealand
According to Maori mythology, Rotorua’s Te Arawa people are the guardians of the thermal region of New Zealand. This right came from the early explorations of Ngatoroirangi, a famous Tohunga (spiritual leader) from the Arawa canoe. Rotorua’s spouting hot geysers, mud pools and volcanic fire are said to be the result of Ngatoroirangi’s actions.
Ngatoroirangi left Maketu on the coast, the site of the Te Arawa canoe landing spot, and travelled inland in a south-westerly direction. While resting on the eastern side of Lake Taupo one day, the clouds parted and Ngatoroirangi caught sight of the gleaming beauty of a mountain away to the south. Overwhelmed by the mountain’s majesty, he ached to climb to the summit.
Venturing to the foot of the mountain, Ngatoroirangi ordered his travelling companions to stay put while he and his slave, Aruhoe, climbed the virgin peak. He left them with the words, “This is a hazardous venture and, if I am to return safely, you who remain must heed my words well. Eat no food as this will give me the strength I need and the gods will stay with me. When I return we will feast together and I will tell you of the things I learn from the mountain.”
Indeed the journey was hazardous. The snowy air froze their breath and iced their fingers, numbed their toes and stiffened their joints. Aruhoe stumbled many times but Ngatoroirangi urged him onward.
Meanwhile, those waiting at the bottom of the mountain grew weary and hungry. One said “He may have perished and we wait in vain” while another said “Hunger is an impatient thing.” So, with sidelong glances at the mountain, they lit their cooking fires and ate.
Their actions drove its icy cold fingers into Ngatoroirangi's heart. The stabbing cold caused him to bend over in agony, and he prayed to his sisters in Hawaiki (said to be the ancestral home of all Maori before they came to New Zealand) to send fire to warm him. “Oh Kuiwai, Oh Haungaroa came quickly. Ka riro au I te tonga?” (I am carried away by the cold south wind). Do not delay or I will surely perish,” he cried.
His sisters in far off in Hawaiki heard Ngatoroirangi's prayer and called upon the fire demons to go to their brother’s aid. So Te Pupu and Te Hoata plunged into the sea and swam quickly across the Pacific Ocean until they came to Whakaari (New Zealand’s only active marine volcanic now known as White Island off the Eastern Bay of Plenty coastline). As they lifted their heads into the air, the surrounding earth became a fiery pit where the heat remains until this day. As the fire demons rose they saw they still had many miles to go to reach Ngatoroirangi. Down they went once more into the seas and under the earth’s crust. Each time the fire demons surfaced – at Moutohora ( Whale Island), Awakeri, Rotoehu, Rotoiti, Rotorua, Tarawera, Orakei Korako, Taupo and Turangi – they left a steaming, bubbling trail of thermal activity in their wake. The ‘tunnel’ they made connected White Island to Mt Ngaruahoe forever ore.
Like a flash of lightening the demons burst through the enormous cone of Tongariro arriving as Ngatoroirangi lay near death.
Although Aruhoe had already succumbed to death, the volcanic heat brought by the fire demons slowly revived Ngatoroirangi spreading warmth through his veins and sending life to his muscle and bone. He named the mountain Tongariro to commemorate the cold south wind that almost killed him.
And so it is that volcanic and thermal activity came to the region and Rotorua’s Te Arawa tribe became its guardian.
Hinemoa and 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 discuss 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 sweetheart 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 Tutanekai 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 show themselves. No one moved. Hinemoa had moved under a hanging rock which provided some protection for her naked body. She stayed as still as a mouse. Then, Tutanekai felt around the edge of the rock and came to where Hinemoa hid. He grabbed her by her hair and pulled her clear. 'Who are you?' he cried. 'Who dares annoy me!. She answered, 'It is I, Hinemoa, who has come to you'. Tutanekai couldn't believe his ears. And when she stepped out of the water, he was sure he had never seen such a beautiful woman. Tutanekai took off his cloak and wrapped it about Hinemoa and they returned to his house to sleep.
The next morning the people of the village (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.
Rotorua is home to many interesting personalities and one of the most renowned of these is former Maori tour guide Maggie Papakura.
Born Margaret Pattison Thom in 1873, Maggie was the daughter of an English storekeeper and a high-born Ngati Wahiao woman. Her family taught her the genealogies, history and customs of her tribe, and her schooling, including tuition from an English governess, gave her the language skills and confi dence to move easily between the Pakeha and Maori worlds.
On leaving school, Maggie moved to Whakarewarewa, the ancestral home of her people. She became an accomplished hostess, entertainer and storyteller, and her services as a guide were sought after. When asked by a visitor if she had a Maori surname, Maggie looked at a nearby geyser called Papakura and responded “My name is Papakura.”
From then on she was known as guide Maggie Papakura.
Maggie married Francis Joseph Dennan in 1891 and went to live in the Wairarapa. Her only child, William, was born later that year, and she returned to Whakarewarewa with him after her husband left to work in the Taupo district. They never reunited and she continued her guiding career.
In 1910 Maggie led a cultural group to London, where she met Richard Staples-Browne. They married in 1912 and she moved to Oxford. She remained there after they divorced in 1924, and was buried there following her death in April 1930 from a ruptured artery. A year later a memorial was erected to her at Whakarewarewa, and this remains in the village today.
Today, Maggie’s descendants still live at Whakarewarewa, continuing the guiding tradition and keeping their culture alive. The thermal village is one of Rotorua’s best-known attractions.
Rotorua’s story begins in the mid 1300s, when the Arawa canoe arrived at Maketu on the Bay of Plenty coastline. A young Te Arawa man, Ihenga, is said to have discovered Rotorua. He was hunting for delicacies for his pregnant wife when one of his dogs disappeared chasing a kiwi. The dog returned some time later with his coat wet and regurgitated a meal of half digested fish. Ihenga realised he was near water, so he searched until he discovered Lake Rotoiti and later, Lake Rotorua.
Local Maori have hosted visitors as far back as the 1800s, when people from all over the world came to see the Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana. Known as the eighth wonder of the world because of the elaborate beauty of these natural sinter formations, the Pink and White Terraces were destroyed in 1886 when Mount Tarawera erupted.
The loss of 150 lives and devastation of the surrounding area, meant the people of the nearby villages moved away to rebuild their lives. The people of Whakarewarewa invited them to settle in the geothermal valley where they continued to host and guide visitors. Both their descendents and the people of Rotorua continue this proud tradition today.
Kuirau Park, Rotorua
The now boiling lake and parkland situated on the corner of Ranolf Street and Lake Road was in the times past much cooler and known as Taokahu.
Tamahika, son of Tutea who was the first to set up permanent residence at the spot, had a beautiful young wife named Kuiarau. One day as Kuiarau was bathing in Taokahu a taniwha (legendary water monster) seized her and dragged her down to his lair below the lake. The gods, observing the struggle between Kuirau and the taniwha, became angry and caused the lake to begin to boil so the Taniwha would be destroyed forever. From that time the lake and the land surrounding it has been known by the name of Tamahika's lost wife, Kuiarau or Kuirau as it is now known.
Hatupatu and Kurungaituku
Kurungaituku was a famous woman huntress. She lived in forest region on the southern boundaries of Rotorua and met her death in the bubbling cauldrons of Whakarewarewa.
In her cave on jutting Puhaturoa (the lofty rock), Kurungaituku kept many tame animals and beautiful birds as pets. She was gifted with the speed of the fastest athlete, and her winged arms enabled her to skim across the mountains and valleys of her domain.
While out on a hunting expedition one day, Kurungaituku was accidentally impaled through her lips by the spear of a young Te Arawa chief by the name of Hatupatu. She was fuming. After a chase, she angrily took him prisoner, adding Hatupatu to her prized collection of other forest creatures in her cave.
Frustrated at his ongoing imprisonment, Hatupatu resolved to escape. The problem lay in that the many other creatures he shared captivity with watched him as closely as his captor. So, despite the fact that Kurangaitutu left each day to hunt, he remained guarded her Kurangaitutu pets.
However, after encouraging Kurungaituku to go further on a hunting expedition on a promise of more luscious and tasty game, Hatupatu took his chance. He took a two handed weapon and killed the tame birds, animals and lizards. Only one creature, a tiny riroriro (grey warbler) who hid during the destruction, escaped Hatupatu's killing spree.
This bird took to the skies to reach Kurangaituku and tell of her human prisoner's escape. With three giant strides she reached her cave home to see the damage Hatupatu had caused to her pets and set off toward Rotorua in pursuit of him. By that time Hatupatu had reached Atiamuri and, using the powers of incantation learned from his father, he commanded a rock to open for him. He hid himself in there from Kurangaituku who was close behind. After she had passed, he followed behind en route to the safety of his family.
But at the final few miles, Kurungaituku caught glimpses of him and again began her pursuit. Hatupatu's only escape was through the cauldrons of Whakarewarewa and he took this path. Kurungaituku followed, however she was not aware of the unfamiliar terrain and treachery bubbling beneath the surface. The bubbling mud and soft ground was her downfall. She fell into the cauldrons and was scolded to death.
The eruption of Mt Tarawera, Rotorua
- The phantom Maori waka (canoe) of Lake Tarawera, Rotorua
- Tarawera, a sacred mountain
- Disaster - the eruption of Mt Tarawera
- The time of grief
- Tarawera today
Rotorua’s dormant volcano Mt Tarawera is the subject of much history. Its eruption in 1886, and the devastation it caused, can be linked to much of the history told by the old people.
The mountain and the adjacent lake of the same name are places of mystery that trace back to the arrival of the Arawa canoe.
Tamahoi was a man-eating ogre who lived on the mountain. As the thermal region became more occupied he would often snatch travellers and devour them. When news of these ambushes reached Ngatoroirangi, a tohunga (sacred man possessing powerful spiritual gifts), he was angered and resolved to make a special expedition to Tarawera to deal with the cannibal ogre.
Well travelled, Ngatoroirangi had conquered the great heights of Mt Tongariro far to the south and summoned the fire that created thermal activity in the Rotorua region. He climbed Mt Tarawera, stamped his foot until a huge chasm was formed. Using his powers to summons Tamahoi to the summit, Ngatoroirangi then threw him into the chasm and covered him over with the solid rock of the mountain. Tamahoi lay asleep inside the mountain for many centuries until he was summoned by the prayers of another tohunga, Tuhoto Ariki.
Said to be at least 105-years-old, Tuhoto was saddened by the deteriorating standards of his people at Te Wairoa village. He felt they were being influenced more and more by the pleasure-loving European. As the days passed, Tuhoto withdrew further into himself and away from the communal life of the pa (village). He prayed to the gods for an answer to the declining standards and was answered when Tamahoi, the long buried demon, burst through his rock bonds and scattered molten rock, boiling mud and ash over Te Wairoa and the surrounding Maori villages.
More than 100 Maori were killed along with a small number of European that night in June 10, 1886.
Search parties began the task of uncovering survivors buried in the volcanic eruption. Many thought Tuhoto would have paid for his curse with his life yet when rescuers uncovered his house five days later Tuhoto was still alive. Maori believe Tamahoi protected the old tohunga and see it as proof Tuhoto was responsible. Tuhoto was taken into Rotorua to be cared for by Europeans, who insisted on cutting the old man's hair. It said that with each cut more of his life ebbed away until his frail old body succumbed and the tohunga of Te Wairoa village died.
The phantom Maori waka (canoe) of Lake Tarawera, Rotorua
An omen that disaster was imminent in the Tarawera area in 1886, was the sighting of the phantom war canoe (waka taua) by Maori and European. It was believed to be a sign of death to all who saw it. Its last appearance was only days prior to the eruption of Mt Tarawera. The apparition was widely discussed and Maori asked their tohunga, Tuhoto Ariki, what it foretold. He replied it was an omen that the entire region would be overwhelmed.
"Lake Tarawera was a copper mirror, reflecting the mountain from base to summit in a lurid glare. Dominating all, hung the great cloud-curtain, gloomy and dark above, saffron and orange on its under-surface. From the cloud, great balls of flaming rock dropped from time to time, descending with a splash into the waters of the lake."
Tarawera, a sacred mountain
A land of volcanoes
The Rotorua District is famous for its volcanoes and geothermal activity. The dramatic landscape shows evidence of past activity;- volcanic mountains, valleys, geysers, springs and hot pools abound. Over hundreds of thousands of years, molten lava exploded through the earth's thin crust in the area where Mt Tarawera now stands. Eruptions built up the mountain, layer upon layer of rhyolite forced from the fires below. For hundreds of years the restless earth slept allowing marvellous natural wonders to form.
The people of the land
Early Arawa explorers who pushed inland from coastal Maketu discovered the secrets of a land of thermal wonders. Legend says that Ngatoroirangi, the navigator priest who came to Aotearoa with the Arawa canoe, drew fire to warm himself on the frozen slopes of Tongariro. He also trapped the feared demon ogre Tamahoi in the depths of Mt Tarawera. Te Arawa people settled in the area; sometimes living peacefully and sometimes at war with other tribes for the rich resources of the area. Over many generations they buried their dead on the slopes of their sacred mountain. Sometimes Ruaumoko (god of earthquakes) groaned deep within the earth, causing the ground to shake, and reminding people of the volcanic power below.
The century of change
All this was to change in the 19th Century when the Rev. Seymour Mills Spencer and his wife Ellen established a Christian mission station in 1843 on Tauaroa, a rocky headland on the shores of Lake Tarawera, and named it Kariri or Galilee.
The Spencers later shifted to the more fertile valley of Te Wairoa.
Early visitors helped spread the fame of the area's wonders to an eager Victorian world. Ohinemutu on the shores of Lake Rotorua became a stopover on the way to the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ - The Pink and White Terraces on Lake Rotomahana, and Te Wairoa grew into a bustling village of around 150.
Tourism in New Zealand was born here.
By 1860 the Tuhourangi people were organising day trips to the terraces and at Hinemihi meeting house the eyes of the carvings traditionally fashioned from paua or mussel shell were made of gold sovereigns and the people grew rich.
There is a darker side to the story. These were times of upheaval and crisis for a society undergoing tremendous change. The unprecedented wealth was easily spent, and alcohol and illness took their toll as people became dependant on a cash economy.
Tuhoto Ariki, a tohunga (sacred man of great spiritual power), warned the people that disaster could follow. The sighting of a phantom canoe 10 days before the eruption confirmed his fears for the area.
“He tohu tera ara ka horo katoa enei takiwa” - It is a warning sign that all will be overwhelmed.
Disaster - the eruption of Mt Tarawera
The night of June 9, 1886, was cold and clear. In the early hours of the morning of June 10 1886, the Tarawera range was erupting. By 2.30am its three peaks were in eruption, columns reaching thousands of metres into the sky.
Worse was to come. Basalt magma mixed with the hydro-thermal system under Lake Rotomahana and, at 3.20am, the bed of Lake Rotomahana blew out, taking with it the famed Pink and White Terraces. Nearby villages of Te Ariki and Moura were buried under a scalding pyroclastic flow.
The settlement of Te Wairoa was almost completely destroyed by falling rocks and mud. At the schoolhouse Charles Haszard, his family and guests were awoken around 1am. They gazed in awe across the lake at a crimson glow above Tarawera.
As they watched, a dense black cloud rose above the glow, lit by a tremendous display of lightning.
A guest, William Bird, recalled the scene vividly: “Lake Tarawera was a copper mirror, reflecting the mountain from base to summit in a lurid glare. Dominating all, hung the great cloud-curtain, gloomy and dark above, saffron and orange on its under-surface. From the cloud, great balls of flaming rock dropped from time to time, descending with a splash into the waters of the lake.”
The awe of the watchers quickly turned to fear. A hail of stones began to rain down, and a strong wind accompanied by a deafening roar of smashed windows.
The death toll will never be known exactly but some 150 people are believed to have died that night. Maori guide Sophia later estimated that 62 people had survived the night with her in her whare. Five members of schoolmaster Charles Haszard's family perished and a young English guest named Edwin Bainbridge died under the falling verandah of the Rotomahana Hotel.
He wrote in his diary: "This is the most awful moment of my life. I cannot tell when I may be called upon to meet my God. I am thankful that I find His strength sufficient for me. We are under heavy falls of Volcanoe."
Edwin Bainbridge of Newcastle on Tyne, England.
The time of grief
The grief was terrible for the Tuhourangi and Ngati Rangitihi people who lost family members, their livelihood and the bones of their ancestors in one terrible night.
Many of the survivors were offered land at Whakarewarewa and Ngapuna – and the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley became the new home for many and the tradition of guiding continued in the thermal area.
The eruption of Mt Tarawera happened more than 120 years ago. Rotorua is very close to the place where great tectonic plates meet; the land has been moving here for thousands of years and continues to do so.
Deep in the Tarawera mountain range the pressure builds, the mountain merely sleeps. Scientists measure volcanic activity, keeping an eye on the restless earth for signs of the next eruption.
Visitors from all over the world still visit the mountain, transported to its awesome summit by descendants of the people who escorted early visitors to the terraces.
Trace this fascinating story by experiencing the remnants of the violent eruption of Mt Tarawera at the Rotorua Museum, exploring the excavated site of Te Wairoa Village known today as The Buried Village and meet the descendants of the survivors in their living thermal village at Te Whakarewarewa.
This information has been shared and sourced from the people of Te Arawa and should be respected as their cultural and intellectual property. Not for commercial reproduction without express permission.
This information has been shared and sourced from the people of Te Arawa and should be respected as their cultural and intellectual property. Not for commercial reproduction without express permission.