My city tour of Rotorua included a visit to the Te Puia Māori Cultural Institute.
If you click on the photo above, it should expand large enough to be legible.
My personal highlight was the national school of carving located at the centre.
Students study full-time for three years under the tutelage of master carvers,
who were once Te Puia students themselves.
"Māori believed that the gods created and communicated through the master carvers or tohunga whakairo. Toi whakairo was a tapu art that was subject to the spiritual laws that governed day-to-day traditional Māori life.
Felling a tree was to cut down a descendant of Tane - the god of the forest and of man. Before committing such an act, a karakia or prayer was recited by the tohunga (priest) to ensure that the act of felling one of Tane’s offspring could be carried out safely.
A few examples of the traditional buildings on display.
Hatu Patu - Wharenui (Meeting House)
Hatupatu is an ancestor who, according to oral history, was pursued into this valley by Kurungaituku (Bird Woman). Many of the land features & hotsprings of this area have been named after this ancestor.
This raised hut was where they would have stored their food.
The grounds in and surrounding the Institute were quite picturesque. I was surprised that we were able to freely take pictures of everything, including the interiors of traditional buildings, as I was not permitted to photograph any Maori artifacts when I visited the Rotorua Museum. It was explained by museum staff that the Maori believed photos drained the sacred life force from these items.