Māori cultural performances – a feast for the eyes and ears

Te Puia’s Māori cultural performances on Rotowhio Marae transport manuhiri (visitors) back in time, beginning with a spine-tingling wero (challenge) from a Māori warrior followed by a traditional pōwhiri (welcome). Manuhiri are then invited inside the beautifully carved wharenui (meeting house), to experience a traditional and unique Māori concert.

The Māori people are known for their great sense of humour, something that is woven throughout our cultural performances. Kapa haka (Māori performing arts) is an avenue to express and showcase our heritage and cultural identity through song and dance.

The art dates back to pre-European times and involves singing, dancing and movements associated with traditional hand-to-hand combat.

One of our kapa haka groups, Mauri Oho, means ‘the awakening of the spirit’. This group is led by Mereana Ngatai who has been performing at Te Puia for more than 10 years and leading Mauri Oho for nine. She takes great pride in connecting with manuhiri and treating them as if they were guests in her own home.

As a group, Mauri Oho aim to inspire their guests and leave a lasting impression, whilst also treating them like whānau (family), showing them respect and emotion.

Mereana leads Mauri Oho by example, showing integrity and manaakitanga (hospitality) to manuhiri. She makes sure every performer has something to offer and that everybody has a role.

Mereana’s husband, Guy, is a guide at Te Puia for Te Pō Indigenous Evening Experience and both her son, Rehua, and daughter, Akiwa, also perform – the whole whānau are passionate about sharing their Māori culture and engaging with manuhiri.

The whānau and tribal bonds evoke a sense of connectedness within the Mauri Oho kapa haka group, who perform daily at 10:15 am and as part of Te Pō. Their performance, as with Te Puia’s other groups, continue to evolve over time.

Māori cultural performances run at 10:15 am, 12:15pm and 3:15 pm daily and last approximately 40 minutes.