The Rotomahana Project is of great interest to the Te Arawa people who regard the whole area around Mount Tarawera to be a sacred site. It is 125 years since that eruption of Mount Tarawera which took over 100 lives, destroyed several villages along with the Pink and White Terraces, and devasted the surviving Maori community who had been living in the area.
This history is still very much alive in the minds of locals around Rotorua, some of whom are direct descendants of those who died. There is therefore a strong personal interest in many people to learn more about the details of the eruption aftermath that may be revealed by the Rotomahana project.
At Hinemihi Marae, Ngapuna, all members of the project team were invited yesterday to a formal welcome ceremony, officiated by several senior elders of Te Arawa. The first photo shows the team assembling outside the Marae, awaiting the invitation to enter. It was a great privelege to be hosted with this welcome, and to be offered words of greeting, waiata (songs) recounting the history of the eruption and prayers for the success of the project. To round of the event there was a feast shared by all participants.
This morning we awoke to a widespread downpour of rain. This created a sombre atmosphere for a blessing ceremony held on the shores of Lake Rotomahana. It was again a beautiful and powerful event that expressed the deep feelings and respect associated with the history of this lake.