Tour & Cultural Performance at Whakarewarewa, the Living Maori Village
The drive to Rotorua is approximately 90 minutes to begin your adventure.
There is a ramp to access the venue.
Photography may be restricted during the Maori ceremonies.
Travelers may be asked to remove their hats during the Maori ceremonies.
Tour Participation Requirements
It can express respect or contempt, love or hate. It's an ode to esteemed guests and honored ancestors, or a warning to sworn enemies. Whether it's a warm welcome or "Leave now if you value your life" depends on interpretation.
Outside of New Zealand, anyone who's seen a haka is likely a rugby fan – it's been the pre-game ritual of the New Zealand national team since 1905, and opponents don't interpret it as "May the best team win." A haka is big, powerful people aggressively stamping, clapping, and shouting in what appears to be synchronized, eye-bulging rage, so it's reasonable to assume that it began as a tribal war dance.
Yet one centuries-old origin story credits it to women trying to make another tribe's chief laugh. And the fact is that the dance is as versatile as it is vigorous, performed at weddings, funerals, in celebration of great achievements, and by children in schools throughout New Zealand. Among the Maori, a haka can be a love song; more commonly, it's a way of passing on traditions and history.
It all comes down to nuance, the group reacting instinctively to the timing of the leader's voice and movements. An inexperienced leader, or dancers not attuned to the nuances, can send the whole tribe's reputation plunging.
Knowing all this, the ferocious energy of the dance that concludes your cultural performance may still catch you off guard. Relax. It's the pride that's fierce; the sentiment is friendly.
Oh – those women finally got that chief laugh, allowing their own chief to identify him. And kill him.
Don't stick your tongue out at a Maori
The haka is performed today at sporting events and to welcome visiting dignitaries. Facial expression plays as important a role as movement and chants: fierce grimaces, thrust-out tongues, bulging eyes. It's intimidating at first, then fun. But centuries ago, it wasn't entertainment; it meant "My mouth waters and I lick my lips, for soon I will taste your flesh."
Non-refundable if canceled within 24 hours of requested services.