Like most of New Zealand, Napier is steeped in fascinating Mâori legend. Oral tradition tells the story of Mâui, a mythological hero, who believed that the coastline of Hawke’s Bay resembled a fishhook and with his enormous strength used it to pull New Zealand up from the sea. Then Kupe, a great Polynesian explorer, sailed from his mythical homeland of Hawaiki in a canoe and paddled to Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” in 950 A.D. and settled on the eastern side of the North Island.
Through centuries of European colonization and modernization, the Mâori have continued to embrace their heritage and honor their age-old traditions. Gain a deeper understanding of their history and culture with a half-day excursion to Hakikino Conservation Reserve.
Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, a hat and bring a camera to capture each memorable moment.
After boarding your coach you’ll travel south towards Waimarama Beach. Along the way, Napier’s scenic countryside rolls past your window with the 1,309-foot-tall Te Mata Peak off in the distance.
Soon, you’ll reach Hakikino Conservation Reserve, a culturally important and archaeologically significant site. Originally a Mâori fortress dating back to the 15th century, today, Hakikino offers a fascinating mix of old world wisdom and new world innovations.
Following a traditional welcome ceremony, you’ll hear fascinating Mâori myths, legends and customs as you follow your guide through the archaeological remains of the ancient fortification. As you stroll the pathways you will learn how these ancient people lived here and discover why this fortress settlement dominates this coastline for over 300 years.
But it’s not all just ancient history. You’ll also learn how the Mâori are making great strides in replanting and restoring native plants, forests and wetland areas that were once a vital part of their heritage.
From here, you’ll visit a present day Marae reservation and spend time with one or two of the group’s elders. Affectionately known as “kaumâtua,” a Mâori elder is held in high esteem. As a respected leader, it’s his or her role to preserve traditions and knowledge, as well as serve as guardians of tikanga (Mâori customs). During your visit a kaumâtua will share time-honored stories, culture and language that continue to inspire the modern day Mâori.
At the conclusion of your tour, you’ll rejoin your coach for the return trip. Sit back and relax as you reflect on the day’s treasured memories that you’ll share with friends and family for years to come.