For many visitors from all over the planet, the Maori represent – together with Australian Aboriginals and Native Americans, perhaps – the quintessence of pride, of freedom, of integrity in the face of conquerors and oppressors.

No wonder, then, that people flock to New Zealand to try and experience first-hand the fascinating history of their original inhabitants. But what with today’s hectic rhythms, this can result in a deeply offensive experience for the Maori population: most times, these noble individuals who have suffered so much through the generations are faced with Europeans or North-American tourists who sport their tattoos, do the Haka or more generally “act Maori” without knowing anything about the struggle that went on in New Zealand.

It’s not about being politically correct: rather, it’s very much a matter of cultural sensitivity. If you’re in NZ or planning to visit and don’t want to commit a faux pas, one way to get closer to the Maori community without being disrespectful is visiting a place like the Mitai Maori Village.

In a stunning natural setting which includes the bush and is touched by the Wai-o-whiro stream you will be able to experience the real life of the Maori community, including their traditional dances, and their day-to-day activities, and you will be able to observe a small number of authentic Maori individuals not just reenacting their past: they are living it in front of you, for you and your family or loved ones to learn from this magnificent culture.

A single family (their surname being, as you can probably guess, Mitai) has set up the entire village so as to open up to visitors from abroad (and from New Zealand itself!) and have them get acquainted with the life of the sons and daughters of those ancient Polynesian explorers.

Don’t call it a Maori Disneyland: life at the Mitai Maori Village includes culinary explorations and laboratories on the art of carving, on traditional dances and tattoos – how they are supposed to be done!