Kōrero: Volcanic Plateau places

Whārangi 5. Around Rotorua city

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero


Thermal area and suburb of Rotorua city, on the shores of Lake Rotorua, with a 2013 population of 267. Ōhinemutu was a Ngāti Whakaue village before the government laid out Rotorua on the other side of Pukeroa Hill. It has remained an important centre for the tribe, and is visited by many tourists.

The Tamatekapua meeting house, on Te Papaiouru marae, is named after the captain of the Arawa canoe, which brought the tribe’s ancestors from Polynesia. First opened in the centre of Ōhinemutu in 1873, the meeting house was demolished in 1939, but was rebuilt and reopened in 1943. Many of its carvings may be much older. An earlier Tamatekapua meeting house stood on Mokoia Island.

Taking the waters

Max Buchner describes how Ōhinemutu’s hot springs were used in 1876: ‘The little pool is the most luxurious bath a human being could want and at that time was the communal meeting-place and recreation area of the Europeans and Maoris of both sexes … there is never any question of clothing being worn … baskets with potatoes, crayfish and freshwater mussels hang on crossed sticks and groups of women watch the preparation.’ 1

Opposite the meeting house is St Faith’s Anglican church, which was renovated in 1965 and had new windows installed. One, overlooking the lake, depicts Christ wearing a korowai (Māori cloak) and appearing to walk on the waters beyond. Many distinguished people are buried in the cemetery, including the Pākehā soldier Captain Gilbert Mair.

The Kotahitanga (Māori parliament) met at Ōhinemutu in 1895, and many significant people have been welcomed onto Papaiouru marae, including British royalty. Te Rorooterangi and Tūnohopū are two other meeting houses at Ōhinemutu.


Neighbourhood and Māori settlement with a 2013 population of 228, famed for its geothermal wonders. Tūhourangi and Ngāti Wāhiao people displaced from the Tarawera area after the 1886 volcanic eruption settled here. The gateway to Whakarewarewa commemorates Te Hokowhitu-a-Tū, Māori who served in the two world wars. The settlement is reached via a bridge across the Puarenga Stream, where Māori youth have long dived for coins thrown by visitors.

Visitors can also access the geothermal attractions through Te Puia, which incorporates the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and offers cultural performances.

Whakarewarewa Forest

2,280-hectare forest park, which started in 1899 as a nursery for non-native trees. A grove of California redwood trees, planted in 1901, was later made into a memorial to New Zealand Forest Service staff who died in the two world wars. The park is laid out with mountain-biking tracks. Mostly planted in exotic trees, it also has a small area of undisturbed native bush.

Rainbow Springs and Fairy Springs

Freshwater springs situated within a kilometre of each other on Fairy Springs Road (State Highway 5), north-west of Rotorua city. Both have pools where visitors can see rainbow trout, introduced to the region’s lakes and rivers at the beginning of the 20th century. Fairy Springs is also known as Te Puna-a-Tūhoe after the Tūhoe ancestor Tūhoe-pōtiki, who once lived there. Near Rainbow Springs a skyline gondola climbs the lower slopes of Mt Ngongotahā.


Settlement, now a suburb of Rotorua, on State Highway 30 north-east of the city centre, and the site of Lakes High School and the Ōwhata marae. The legendary Hinemoa is reputed to have swum to Mokoia Island to meet her beloved Tūtānekai, from Hinemoa Point on the adjacent lakeside.

Te Ngae

Settlement 14 km north-east of Rotorua city, 3 km past Rotorua airport. Te Ngae was the site of an early mission station in the district, set up by the Anglican Thomas Chapman to succeed earlier stations at Koutū and on Mokoia Island. Ngāti Rangiteaorere have a marae in Te Ngae.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Quoted in D. M. Stafford, The founding years in Rotorua: a history of events to 1900. Rotorua: Rotorua District Council, 1986, p. 138. › Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Malcolm McKinnon, 'Volcanic Plateau places - Around Rotorua city', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/volcanic-plateau-places/page-5 (accessed 20 June 2024)

He kōrero nā Malcolm McKinnon, i tāngia i te 1 Nov 2007, updated 25 May 2015