Right next to the Te Puia Cultural center are a set of geysers, some mud flats and a beautiful cobalt blue lake, all set in the lush New Zealand foliage. Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pohutu Geyser, Te Horu Geyser (The Cauldron) and Waikorohihi Geyser are on a sinter plateau about 6 m above Puarenga Stream. Prince of Wales Feathers Geyser, Pohutu Geyser's closest neighbour, always precedes Pohutu, a feeble jet at first but gradually increasing in power until a continuous 9 m high column is ejected at an angle, when Pohutu usually erupts also. Sometimes Waikorohihi Geyser erupts a discontinuous 5 m high jet, then Prince of Wales Feathers will commence, later followed by Pohutu. This was the site of the Māori fortress of Te Puia, first occupied around 1325, and known as an impenetrable stronghold never taken in battle. Māori have lived here ever since, taking full advantage of the geothermal activity in the valley for heating and cooking.
When we visited Te Puia, we had a chance to visit the schools of Carving and Weaving. As the Māori did not have a written language until the 19th century, carvings were used to record and preserve the history and culture of their people. Ornate Māori carvings can be found on meeting houses, canoes, weapons and jewelry, with superior carvings seen as a sign of prestige. Māori carvings are a record of tribal affairs and pay deep respect to ancestors, history and the people for whom they are prepared – although they cannot be read or interpreted in a Western sense. The isolation from the rest of Polynesia means Māori wood carving differs significantly from other Pacific styles, although the basic patterns are believed to originate from their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki (Hawaii). The name ‘Te Rito’ is based on the baby shoot at the heart of the flax. Students are taught never to disturb the inner shoots when cutting flax as the baby along with its mother and father on each side is a family unit that should not be broken. Like the Carving School, Te Rito has been involved in a range of projects to develop cultural heritage assets for Māori.
The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) opened in 1967 in Rotorua, New Zealand due to the impending threat of the loss of traditional Māori arts. In 1926 a Māori Arts and Crafts school had been established in Rotorua by Sir Apirana Ngata, and the new school continued the tradition in a location well-established for traditional Māori arts and crafts. The location of school at Whakarewarewa enabled easy access to the tourist market, which supports the various schools. Whakarewarewa (reduced version of Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao, meaning “The gathering place for the war parties of Wahiao”, often abbreviated to Whaka by locals) is a geothermal area within Rotorua city in the Taupo Volcanic Zone of New Zealand. This was the site of the Māori fortress of Te Puia, first occupied around 1325, and known as an impenetrable stronghold never taken in battle. Māori have lived here ever since, taking full advantage of the geothermal activity in the valley for heating and cooking. Wahiao was a great ancestor to the people of this valley and the chief of Ngati Wahiao, a subtribe of Te Arawa.