Story: Thermal pools and spas

Māori use of thermal pools (1st of 3)

Māori use of thermal pools

For generations, Māori have used thermal waters for medicinal purposes, especially for skin complaints and rheumatic diseases. This oil painting by John Philemon Backhouse shows Māori people bathing in two small thermal pools near the edge of Lake Rotorua about 1880. The title, ‘Old painkiller bath, Te Kauwhanga Point, Rotorua’ makes clear the therapeutic properties of the waters.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: E-053-004
Oil painting by John Philemon Backhouse

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Thermal pools and spas - A valued resource', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 6 July 2022)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 12 Jun 2006