Waimārama Māori Tours



NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group



Walking on the sacred grounds of the ancient pā site of Hakikino is an exceptional experience that often makes visitors well up; there's a sensation of traveling through centuries of history. The fortress, founded by the Rangitāne in the 14th century, is the site of many bloody intertribal conflicts and the spiritual home of the Waimārama Māori. In the 16th century, Hakikino was breached by the people of Ngāti Kahungunu and, through marriage, Rangitāne and Ngāti Kahungunu were united. Ngāti Kahungunu kaumātua Robert McDonald is the owner/director of Waimārama Māori Tours and is a national treasure. “I thought that by sharing the land's history; I could protect it for my people.” The area was taken from Robert's grandmother for Pākehā soldier resettlement after World War II, but the family bought it back 40 years ago and transformed it into an operation designed for telling the stories unique to Waimārama Māori. Robert begins his “Day in the Life of a Māori Elder” tour by sharing tales of the great Polynesian navigators and Rangitāne's connection to Kurahaupō waka and the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. It would be easy to listen to him talk for days. In the stone seating area of Te Ana ō Hinengu (Hinengu's Cave), Robert shares the tale of Hinengu, the shapeshifting daughter of the sea god, Tangaroa. Hinengu was able to convert from her proper form as a giant squid to make a warrior fall in love with her. When Tangaroa found out, he banished her to the sea, making her take on her squid form forever. 498 Te Apiti Road, Waimārama. 021 057 0935, waimaramamaori.co.nz