Just 10 minutes’ walk from downtown Rotorua is the Māori village of Ohinemutu. This place is home to the Ngāti Whakaue tribe, a sub-tribe of the Te Arawa waka (canoe) which journeyed from the Pacific homeland of Hawaiiki to New Zealand around 1350AD. The location was chosen for its lakeside setting and abundant geothermal energy, used for cooking, bathing and heating.
Visitors are welcome to walk around this living village, at no charge, to view the cooking arrangements over the boiling hot water vents and to see the outdoor bathing sheds. Remember to keep to the paths at all times.
Ohinemutu became the main centre for the Rotorua region in the early 1870s. Visitors, including royalty, arrived at this bustling settlement before going on to visit the Pink and White terraces at Lake Tarawera, and to experience the healing waters of Rotorua.
Today the village retains a sense of importance. The large meeting house provides the setting for many significant occasions for the people of this area.
Marae and meeting house
Ohinemutu is home to the Te Papaiouru Marae and the Tama-te-Kapua meeting house, named after the paramount chief and captain of the Te Arawa canoe. The carving on the large meeting house is exquisite and highlighted by hundreds of inlaid shiny paua shells. The house is not open to the public, but you are welcome to enjoy it from the outside.
St Faith’s Church
Towards the lake's edge is the historic and magnificently decorated St Faith’s Church, which was completed in 1914. While its exterior is Tudor-style, the church interior has a strong Māori influence, with beautiful carvings and woven panels. A memorable feature is a window etched with the image of Jesus wearing a Māori cloak – he appears to walk across the surface of the lake.
Visitors are welcome to attend the bilingual service conducted every Sunday at 9.00am, or visit the church at their leisure. It's open from 10am - 3pm daily and donations are welcome in the collection box at the doorway.