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Discover Māori culture in Wellington

Maori legend says that the demi-god Maui caught a giant fish, which became the North Island of New Zealand. Wellington is the head of the fish, Te Upoko o Te Ika a Maui. Here are some ways to discover Wellington’s Māori culture and heritage.

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

School trip Te Papa

Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand, is rich in cultural heritage and celebrates the stories of our people. The Māori words ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’ can be translated to mean ‘a container in which precious objects are held’.

Take a Māori Highlights Tour and discover Te Papa's taonga (Māori cultural treasures) and gain insights into Māori culture. From historic, artistic, and contemporary perspectives, this tour will enrich your understanding of what makes New Zealand's Māori culture unique. You can also experience a taste of Māori culture on a Kapu Ti tour. Discover cultural treasures and the Marae (meeting house) followed by a traditional meal.

Te Raukura/Te Wharewaka o Poneke

MT 2011 11 7 006

This distinctive contemporary building, conceived as a feather cloak laid across the landscape, is located on Wellington’s waterfront on the former site of Te Aro Pa, a large Māori community until the 1880s. The Wharewaka (waka house) holds two ceremonial waka and is open daily to the public. Traditional Māori cuisine, including hangi, can be enjoyed in the adjoining Karaka Cafe. 

Wellington Museum

museum of wellington city sea exterior new

Wellington Museum offers a wonderful insight into the rich social and cultural history of Wellington. A favourite with visitors is “A Millennium Ago", a dramatic installation that uses holographic effects to tell Māori creation legends including the Taniwha that created Wellington’s harbour.

New Zealand Parliament Buildings

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The New Zealand parliamentary system has seven seats reserved for Māori Members of Parliament and Māori is an official language of New Zealand.  The Māori Affairs Committee Room, ’Māui Tikitiki-a-Taranga’ represents all of New Zealand’s tribes through stories and symbols incorporated into the weavings and carvings in the room.  The room is often visited on free guided tours of Parliament.

Flat Earth New Zealand Experiences

Flat earth

Experience Māori arts, culture and heritage on a Flat Earth Māori Treasures tour. This half day tour takes in some of Wellington's major sites, and includes a tour through the Māori exhibition spaces at Te Papa. You will also have the opportunity to go behind the scenes to experience Māori taonga (treasures) close up. This is an exclusive view of the main Māori Treasures collection and is not open to the public.

Te Aro Pa

te aro small

In Taranaki St lies the remains of Te Aro Pa, a Māori village excavated in 2005 during building construction. It is the only 1840s Māori site found in the city and contains preserved foundations of two whare ponga (buildings).  A visitor centre displays the preserved foundations of the two buildings and other items from the old pa site.

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