Before European contact, Maori men and women were treated equally in society, yet still maintain strong links to family and tribal history via patterns on ridgepoles or hangi (traditional Maori tent) or marae (carved buildings).
Maori welcome calls known as Hongi are used to greet couples entering Maori villages or wedding locations with a symbolic practice meant to unite their breaths as one.
Immerse yourself in a tribal gathering
One of the best ways to understand any culture is to experience it first-hand, and visiting a Maori village is an ideal way of doing just that. From ceremonial rituals and performances, to hangi feasting and more – you’ll feel as if you have traveled back through time!
Visitors to Maori villages will first notice a welcoming ceremony known as Powhiri. Conducted by marae elders, this ceremonial welcome provides the ideal introduction to their culture. Prior to European colonization, Maori people communicated their history through faces and carvings passed down generation after generation; nowadays however they also use an official written language called Te Reo Maori to pass down legends and stories through generations.
At a Maori wedding, one of the traditions you’ll see is called Hongi ritual. At this ceremony, bride and groom join breaths of life through waiata singing as one. After this ceremony is finished, couples head off for an exciting night of food and entertainment in which they’ll eat a hangi (traditional Maori feast cooked in an outdoor pit oven for hours), receive gifts from their tribe members, and dance the night away – truly an incredibly beautiful way to begin life as married partners!
Take a tour of a Maori village
Maori people are an active, vibrant culture with deep connections to their land. By visiting their village and participating in their culture, visiting Maori villages will provide an ideal way of understanding their values such as treasured possessions (taonga), guardianship of their environment (kaitiakitanga), and turangawaewae (where you feel empowered and connected).
Pop culture portrayals of Maori warriors can be misleading; in actuality they welcome visitors eager to learn their traditions. At the same time they embrace modernity and progress: for instance many Maori speak English as well as Te Reo. Furthermore they utilize internet technology and other forms of technology to spread their message and keep in contact with family and friends.
Visit a Maori village to experience their culture by participating in rituals, haka performances, hangi feasting and more. Mitai Maori Village offers such an event featuring traditional earth cooked hangi meal as part of their cultural evening program. Also on display at Mitai Maori Village are warriors wearing traditional dress, an impressive display of weaponry and Haka performances and carvings and tattoo art (tattoo art) exhibitions as well as their sacred Fairy Spring flowing from below the earth surface – something not many get to experience first-hand!
Another way to experience Maori culture is to tour with a Maori guide and discover their ancestral sites, sacred areas, edible and medicinal plants as well as weaving harakeke (flax leaves) while singing traditional Maori songs or listening to legends about their land.
Watch a haka performance
The Haka is an integral part of Maori culture in New Zealand and should not be missed on your New Zealand honeymoon! From performances at All Blacks Rugby games to more graceful, harmonious pieces – you are bound to witness one or two haka performances during your stay here! You may be lucky enough to catch one on one or more occasions during your journey through New Zealand! There are various spots around New Zealand where this beautiful ritual can be witnessed!
One of the best places to witness a haka is at Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua. Experience Maori culture through ceremonial rituals, powerful performances and a hangi feast at this captivating site!
At Auckland Museum or Ko Tane Cultural Center on the outskirts of Christchurch you can witness haka performances as part of their Waiata-a-Ringa (action songs), with accompanying haka performances fluttering hands, or wiri, representing shimmering water, heat waves or wind blowing leaves of trees.
Maori tattooing (ta moko) has long been part of their culture. Done to commemorate significant events or achievements in their lives – such as honoring deceased family members – it also shows commitment within a marriage by Maori women showing their partners they love them through tattooing themselves – an ancient practice which still takes place today.
Eat a hangi
Though many travelers visit New Zealand with the intention of scaling mountains, sailing through fiords and walking across pristine ice sheets, there’s much more to the country than its remarkable geographical features. Food has always played an integral role in Kiwi culture and one of the most sought-after tourist activities is experiencing a traditional hangi feast.
Hangi is a Maori tradition whereby heated rocks are buried into an earth oven to create heat, which then heats the surrounding air for cooking the meal. Although this method takes hours to cook, the resultant food provides delicious tender meat and aromatic vegetables infused with rich smoky flavors that is sure to delight.
Hangi events offer couples an opportunity to make marriage promises to each other by exchanging vows or singing waiata (traditional songs). Family and friends also often provide support during this ceremony. After which there may be dance performances from local Maori communities.
On New Zealand’s North Island, romance abounds! Wineries and charming cottages dot rolling vineyard hills while stunning beaches look out onto sparkling seas. Walk hand in hand across landscapes that see few visitors, helicopter into captivating wilderness areas or indulge at lodges that rival Tuscany for romance!