Te Puia spans 70 hectares within the historic Te Whakarewarewa Valley, on the edge of town. We are home to the world famous Pohutu geyser, to mud pools, hot springs, to silica formations to the Kiwi bird and the national schools of wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. We have shared these treasures with manuhiri (visitors) for 170 years and proudly continue that legacy today.
To be the centre of knowledge and excellence for the preservation, presentation, education and growth of traditional expressions of Māori arts, crafts and culture.
The guiding principles were set by Māori elders (koeke) at the establishment of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in 1963. These principles provide a framework on which to build a strong cultural future:
Taonga Tuku Iho - Custodians of treasured heritage
Kaitiakitanga - Guardians of our resources
Manaakitanga - Exceptional hospitality
Mātauranga Māori - Preservation and sharing of our history and knowledge
In the Māori world, connections between people are integral to our culture. Whakapapa (shared origins) define that world, and these relationships are maintained and honoured throughout the generations.
At Te Puia you will experience this world, where our Māori guides proudly recount stories handed down from their tipuna (ancestors). These are the people who will welcome and befriend you. Through this connection you too will become part of the heritage that is Te Puia. Today’s Te Puia is building on its foundations of openness and hospitality, offering new ways to experience and interact with Māori culture and the natural environment of the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley.
Te Puia offers you, through our people, Māori art and onsite experiences, an opportunity to sense our history and feel our living culture. You will walk in the footprints of our Māori ancestors and see their heritage in the faces of their descendants alongside you.
The Act of Parliament that established the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute granted us the role of guardians of Māori arts, crafts and culture.
Te Puia is home to the national schools of Māori carving and weaving. When you visit, you can watch and interact with master carvers, weavers and their students, and purchase the finished artworks in our Taonga Gallery Gift Shop.
For over 40 years, Te Puia has been involved in the carving of over 30 wharenui (meeting houses) throughout New Zealand and created countless gifts for official guests and dignitaries visiting the country. Our latest initiative, Te Kakano, takes centre stage at the New Zealand Pavillion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.
Te Puia has a vast range of cultural programmes every year. In many of these Te Puia represents Māori traditions throughout the world. Te Puia is a living cultural institution. Our art forms and culture are our connection to the past and our pathway into the future.
Te Puia takes its origin from the heritage of the Te Whakarewarewa Valley, with its gushing waters and steaming vents, it’s a place of powerful energies and natural beauty.
Māori people have been living in the area for almost 700 years, and Te Puia offers a chance to find out more about Māori, their culture and land. It’s an opportunity to learn about their knowledge and their history, handed down from generation to generation.
At Te Puia, guiding is as natural as our humour. It is in our bones. Many guides are the sons and daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the guides of old. To this day, many of our guides and staff are the direct descendants of the original people who settled in this valley. They tell stories that have been told for generations and share their own.
The special connection our Māori guides have with the land and its history ensures tours at Te Puia are unlike any other in New Zealand.
Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley is a special place - home to Te Arawa people for generations. The environment alone is of enormous geological significance, with thermal activity ranging from boiling mud to the world famous 30-metre (100-foot) Pohutu geyser, erupting up to 20 times each day. Hot springs, boiling sulphurous pools, silica terraces and bubbling mud pools are among the natural wonders at Te Whakarewarewa.
Te Whakarewarewa is also home to many species of native plants and birds. You can take a guided tour of the New Zealand native bush or you can guide yourself around our thermal valley. Our guides will point out all the native species and describe the many uses Māori find for the natural resources and geothermal activity around them.
Our Kiwi Conservation Centre is a valuable part of a national Kiwi breeding programme. Here you can see our New Zealand native flightless bird and national icon in a specially lit purpose-built nocturnal house, with expert guides and information at hand.
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