Sunday, April 12, 2009

Buried History

Buried Village, Rotorua. 2007 Ajr
It was a warm, sunny, winter’s day in 2007 when I last visited the Buried Village in Rotorua. It’s a place that captured my imagination as a child and every time I return there, I still imagine the horror faced by the inhabitants of the village of Te Wairoa, when Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886. Today you can wander the park-like grounds beside the Te Wairoa Stream, wondering what it might have been like to be covered in ash, rock and boiling mud. The eruption buried three villages and around 150 people lost their lives. Te Wairoa was the only one that was excavated. There are a number of unearthed dwellings there – like this Maori tohunga’s whare (house) pictured above. Legend has it that the tohunga (high priest) is said to have predicted the disaster after the sighting of a phantom waka (war canoe) on Lake Tarawera in the days leading up to the explosion.

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