On Rotorua's lakefront you can wander through the living Māori village of Ohinemutu, which is now a suburb of Rotorua City. View an intricately carved Māori meeting house and enter a 1901 Tudor-style church set amidst steaming geothermal vents.
Ohinemutu was originally settled by the tribe Ngati Whakaue. The location was chosen for its lakeside setting and abundant geothermal energy for cooking, bathing and heating. In pre-European times, Ohinemutu was the main centre for the Lake Rotorua region - visitors and food arrived at this bustling settlement before going on to the surrounding villages.
Today the village retains a sense of importance. The large meeting house provides the setting for many significant ocacasions for the people of this area.
The house is named Tama-te-Kapua, after the ancestral Māori chief of the Rotorua people. The carving on the large meeting house is exquisite and highlighted by hundreds of inlaid shiny paua shells. You cannot enter the house, but are welcome to enjoy it from the outside.
Towards the lake's edge is the magnificently decorated Saint Faiths church. Inside the church, Māori carvings and woven panels add a unique dimension to the European Tudor-style architecture. A memorable feature is a window etched with the image of Jesus clad in a Māori cloak - he appears to walk towards you across the surface of the lake.
At Ohinemutu you can see how the Māori and European cultures have collaborated. Visitors are welcome to explore the area on foot for free, taking care to treat sacred places with respect.