In 1953 caver Henry Lambert descended a rope ladder with a safety line attached to his waist. He was going to a burial cave high above the main entrance to Ruakuri Cave at Waitomo. In the past, members of the local Māori tribe had carried the body of one of their people to the cave by climbing a karaka tree that grew at the face of the cliff. They then cut down the tree to ensure that no one could enter. The tribe regards the original entrance of Ruakuri Cave as wāhi tapu (a place restricted for spiritual reasons). When the cave was redeveloped as a tourist attraction in 2004, a new entrance was built so that visitors would not violate the tapu.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
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.