The Maori culture is a valuable and integral part of the ‘Kiwi’ culture. While New Zealanders, in particular the Maori people, celebrate many of the traditions of Maoridom regularly, New Zealand is very much a western country and the Maori people do not live as they did 150 years ago. However there is a unique pride that New Zealanders have for their indigenous culture – this is most commonly represented on the international stage when New Zealanders perform the Maori Haka (Maori war dance) at the start or end of international sporting matches. For tourists visiting New Zealand there are many opportunities to experience the culture and customs of the indigenous people in their travels.


The North Island is home to the majority of the Maori tribes. All around the North Island are opportunities to visit a “Marae” (the Maori meeting place), where often tourists are given the opportunity to partake in celebrations and experience a hangi (traditional Maori way of cooking food in the ground). The most well known and tourist focused cultural experience of the North Island is located in Rotorua. The pre-european village, Tamaki Maori Village, is located 15 minutes south of Rotorua and is a perserved traditional Maori village that allows visitors to stay overnight whist providing an entertaining insite to the Maori culture and traditions. It is a great way to fully immerse in the indegenous culture and really get a feel for the heart of New Zealand.


Another important cultural spot in the North Island of New Zealand is Waitangi. Located in the Bay of Islands, Waitangi is a celebrated part of New Zealand history as it is where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed. The treaty of Waitangi is a document that was signed by the British crown and Maori Chiefs in 1840 as a representation of the British sovereignty in New Zealand. The treaty recognised the rights of the Maori leaders and allowed them lands that they owned or governed over at the time. This document has been revisited many times, as an important document for the establishment of indigenous rights. Today visitors can visit the historic site, learn more about the treaty and history as well as explore the beautiful Bay of Islands.


In the South Island there is only one Maori tribe, this is made up of many subtribes that are located in many different parts of the South Island. Ngai Tahu is the South Island tribe based in Canterbury. This tribe has a foothold on the tourist attractions in the South Island, with many of the key attractions owned by Ngāi Tahu. For this reason there is a strong value on nature and the Maori traditions, this comes through in many of the attractions. For example the Whale Watch tourism venture in Kaikoura was started and is owned by the indigenous Ngāti Kuri people (a sub-tribe of Ngāi tahu). At this particular tourist venture the guides explain the local importance of the whale, the myth surrounding whales and human interaction with the whale.


In terms of true Maori experiences in the South Island, Christchurch and Kaikoura both have exhibitions with traditional villages that display the dance, food and culture of New Zealand Maori.


Most cities in New Zealand have Maraes (meeting places) that tourists can visit, however there are particular spots that are set up so for visitors to experience the full culture. Immersing yourself in the culture is a great way to really get to know the New Zealand. The Maori culture is highly valued in New Zealand and there are also opportunities at museums and general tourist destinations to get to know the New Zealand culture a little bit more.