We may not have big shopping malls, but Rotorua more than makes up for it by having loads of shops that support high-quality local and Kiwi-made items that perfect for gift giving.
This guide specifically includes Māori-owned and themed shops that celebrate our indigenous people, culture, arts and crafts.
Tucked away down Hinemoa Street is Iti Gifts, a light, bright shop that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for beautiful jewellery, women or men’s clothing, or the most adorable whētero hoodies for children, this is your place. Iti also stocks homewares, art, and botanical hauora products such as soaps, balms, mirimiri massage oil and more.
This really is a one-stop shop, and everything is made as locally as possible, so you’ll be supporting talented New Zealand designers and artists.
Rotorua-based fashion designer Adrienne Whitewood was taught how to sew at the age of 8 by her kuia. Inspired by indigenous art and culture, she’s known for the movement her screen-printed Māori designs gives to the garments she designs and sells at her shop Ahu Boutique.
Pounamu and other Māori toiKiwis and greenstone go together like pav and cream. We’re extremely proud to own and wear pounamu pendants, earrings, bracelets and more. They always make a special and highly revered gift for the recipient.
Thirty-five years ago a carver by the name of John David Sheehan set up his one-man workshop carving and selling greenstone creations. Today, Mountain Jade is still very much a family-run business of crafters and carvers, and includes two of John’s children, John Jr. and Hannah, as well as artisans located throughout Aotearoa.
Mountain Jade appreciates and collects jade from all over the world and then provides you with the opportunity to choose your favourite, whether it’s for its origin, the colours encased within the stone, the carved shape, or the meaning behind the shape. The team will help you choose, if you would like, or you can let the piece choose you. While you’re at it, don’t be worried about selecting a piece for yourself, Mountain Jade is determined to debunk the gifting of pounamu.
Another fantastic shop and gallery with skilled carvers is Puawai Jade. Specialist pounamu carver Niki Nepia, at work above, is well known for both his traditional and contemporary work, producing pieces that are innovative, unique and consistently pushing his creative and technical abilities.
To really appreciate the art of carving jade, give yourself extra time to watch the artists at work in the studios at both Mountain Jade and Puawai Jade. You’ll be mesmerised and inspired.
Speaking of artworks, Āhua Gallery is a must-visit. Operated by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) at Te Puia, a wide range of wood, bone and pounamu carvings, bronze statues, fibre arts, apparel and books are available. NZMACI is the home of the national schools of carving and weaving, where master carvers and master weavers fulfil the purpose of preserving, promoting and perpetuating Māori arts and crafts.
If you’re running short on time, it’s easy to pop into the gift shop online or the store at the front entrance to Te Puia.