Treating visitors to Te Puia geothermal park to an exhaustive peek into Maori culture, lore and legend: Women guides of the Te Arawa tribe – New Zealand

New Zealand smokes, it smells and then stuns you with its geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools […]

Rotorua is New Zealand’s geothermal wonderland. It is located on North Island at the southernmost tip of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Just in case you have forgotten your geography like we had, the Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped area in the Pacific Ocean made up of volcanic arcs and belts. It starts in New Zealand, stretches along the eastern edge of Asia, the northern islands of Alaska and tapers away south, along the coast of North and South America. It is the site of 81 per cent of the earth’s biggest earthquakes, and 90 per cent of the world’s overall earthquakes. About 240,000 years back, a volcanic eruption on North Island caused the magma chamber of the earth to collapse, leaving behind a depression or caldera. Gradually, water filled up the caldera. Much later, Maori chieftain Kahumatamomoe, from the Te Arawa tribe, discovered the lake and the hot springs around it and called it Roto (lake) Rua (two). Rotorua, even today, remains the seat of Maori culture, with streets named after Maori Gods, warriors and chieftains with unpronounceable names. […]

Rotorua smokes and smells. As we drive into the city, we are greeted by smoke spirals and a strong smell of rotten eggs, earning it the nickname of Rotten-Rua. Legend ascribes the geo-thermal activity to the exploits of a spiritual leader of the Te Arawa tribe called Ngatoroirangi, who saw a beautiful white mountain and decided to climb it. As he climbed higher, icy winds threatened to blow him off. Ngatoroirangi prayed to his sisters Te Pupu and Te Hoata, who lived in Hawaiki, to bring him the warmth of fire. The two sisters immediately swam across the Pacific Ocean carrying the fire that would save their brother. Each time the sisters raised their heads from the ocean to see if they had reached, the earth in that place became a pit of fire. […]

Incidentally, all guides in Te Puia are women, who have been handed this responsibility, generation after generation, by their mothers and grandmothers. Visitors to Te Puia are treated to an exhaustive peek into Maori culture, lore and legend. You can see the marae, the central community hall of every Maori village, where people congregate for all occasions, happy or sad. The Kiwi House has New Zealand’s iconic kiwi bird but the dark brown bird, being nocturnal, is extremely photo-sensitive and sound-sensitive. The lighting in Kiwi House, therefore, is almost nonexistent, making kiwi-spotting a lottery. We did not win it! […]

Source: Smoke on the water, The Hindu, Travel, November 30, 2012
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Date Visited: Thu Jun 13 2013 16:48:32 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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