Thursday, March 18, 2010

Whakarewarewa - Two Sides

Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Thermal Village is one of New Zealand's iconic tourism attractions. In addition to its natural geothermal activity, the village is home to the Ngati Wahiao people, who have resided here for over 300 years, tapping into the geothermal resources for cooking and washing practices. If you visit, you'll get an insight into both their traditional and contemporary way of life. The above carving is a detail from the wharenui (meeting house) of Wahiao Marae - one of dozens of traditional carvings that give Whakarewarewa so much character.

But you don't have to go far to see that the seventy or so people (in 25 families) living in the village live ordinary lives that involve doing things like the daily washing. Some may be employed as your tour guide, some may be weavers, carvers or tattoists, but at the end of the day they are simply New Zealanders going about everyday life - privileged if you ask me, to live in a unique place so riddled with history and mystery.

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