This was supposed to be the highlight of our trip to Rotorua - after all, according to the website this was one of the "Top 10 Experiences in the world". The reviews I read seemed to confirm this, however after my visit to Tamaki Maori Village I am beginning wonder whether those reviewers had reviewed the wrong place by mistake.
I feel that it is important to know that I was all in on this. I WANTED this to be good. I was prepared for the experience to feel a bit hokey or even canned - we were paying for a show after all, and I was all in. We attended the afternoon session since we have 2 young kids and they would never make it through an evening show. I was excited for my 5 year old son to be exposed to some of the traditions of the Maori culture and I was ready to help him feel that the experience was as authentic as possible. Unfortunately that suspension of disbelief was impossible, even for a 5 year old.
The experience we got is NOT what is sold on their website. Our "host" was in sneakers, shorts and a T-shirt, our "activity" was wrapping hamburgers in pizza dough, and then majority of our time in the "village" - about 45 minutes - was spent sitting at a table awkwardly waiting for our hamburger to be deep fried while we made awkward small talk with our host and our kids complained of boredom.
When we finally did get a tour of the village it included a brief overview from our host followed by "feel free to look around". Our "traditional game" was throwing sticks back and forth. The highlight of the experience for the kids was feeding eels ground beef off of wooden barbecue skewers. The whole experience was capped off by our host dragging his poor children down to the village and making them sing for us while he played guitar. Sure, they smiled and went through the motions, but it was obvious that dad dragged them off the couch to make them perform for the tourists.
There was no traditional dress at all, there was no "cultural exposure". This whole experience was an obvious cash grab by a company exploiting people's desire to learn about Maori culture. Describing it as disappointing would be generous, "painful" would be a more appropriate adjective.
At the end of the day we paid $130/person for deep fried food that we had to make our selves while hanging out with one Maori dude in shorts and a t-shirt.
This company should be ashamed of their marketing. Absolutely not as advertised. I write this in hopes that no one else wastes their time and money on this sham of an experience.