Townsville, Queensland, Australia
October 22, 2003
Te Wairoa Village, in a valley above Lake Tarawera, became a colonial village established by a Christian missionary in 1848, where both Maori and Pakeha lived in harmony. It was abandoned during the land wars in the 1860s, then repopulated a few years later as the staging post for travelers to the Terraces. In 1886, Te Wairoa and nine other smaller villages were buried under hot ash and mud. Now Te Wairoa has been excavated and it relives as a tourist attraction introducing visitors to the fascinating drama and history of this traumatic event.
The Buried Village is a quality experience which should appeal to most travelers. The excavated buildings are connected by a meandering pathway through trees and meadows beside the Te Wairoa Stream. As you wander the path you can explore the blacksmith’s shop, the Tohunga’s whare belonging to the high priest who predicted the destruction, the Barman’s house and the site of the two-storey Rotomahana Hotel which collapsed six hours after the eruption killing an English tourist.
The highlight to me, however, was the guided tour through the excellent museum with Maori guide Huru Maika, a direct descendant of the original inhabitants of the Te Wairoa village. The museum is excellent, and the guide was passionate, enthralling and informative. Free museum tours are run at regular intervals throughout the day and I would advise not to miss one. I left fascinated and well informed about an event of which I previously knew nothing.
The site also has an interesting bush walk that descends the spectacular Te Wairoa waterfalls, some animals for the children and hand-fed rainbow trout in the stream, and a souvenir store and tearooms for everyone. Allow 2 hours for the visit and experience history, alive, today.
Tel/Fax: (07) 362-8287
From journal Around Rotarua