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Poihakena Tours: Stories of Maori in Sydney

Home > Sydney > Family | Museums | Places of Interest | Tours | Walks
by Gypsy Rose (subscribe)
I am a travel writer and photographer with a passion for the great outdoors and food! I love travelling and discovering hidden gems... experience the journey on Instragram! @gypsy_compass
Published May 20th 2018
Get surprised with Maori history in The Rocks
The Rocks (which was known as Tallawoladah by the Cadigal people) is the oldest part of Sydney and is situated on the western shores of Sydney Cove, an area steeped in rich history. It is filled with a neighbourhood of historic laneways in the shadow of the stunning Sydney Harbour Bridge and iconic Sydney Opera House sitting adjacent. It was the first European settlement in Australia, established by Captain Arthur Phillip of England in 1788 as a penal colony.

Campbells Cove Jetty is the meeting spot for the Poihakena Walking Tour.


It is home to some of Sydney's oldest pubs, upscale restaurants, open-air markets, buskers, The Museum of Contemporary Art and picturesque harbourfront views.

The breathtaking view from Campbells Cove.


Very few of us are aware of the Maori who lived, loved, visited, traded and worked for over 225-years in The Rocks. For the rest of us, this tour is a wonderful way to get an insight into the history of the Maori who arrived in The Rocks, Sydney.

Historical images were shown to us throughout the Tour.


Poihakena Tours with Kotahi Tourism is a fantastic two-hour walking tour around The Rocks, which includes fascinating and surprising Maori stories and significant sites.

The Walking Tour takes you through the historical streets of The Rocks.


Poihakena is the te reo Maori word for Port Jackson-Sydney. Maori have been coming to Sydney since 1793 and Maori taonga (treasured items) have been revealed on the archaeological site in The Rocks.

Poihakena tours take place on Gadigal Country- Always has been. Always will be.

The beautiful Maori gemstone discovered near the Whalers Arms. It is now displayed at The Rocks Discovery Museum.


The Tour was filled with many surprises about the discoveries of remnants during the colonial times, including a greenstone taonga at The Rocks Discovery Museum and intriguing stories that were shared by our very knowledgeable and friendly guide Brent and his adorable assistant.

The site where the Maori gemstone was found.


After our greeting, the Tour began with a Maori prayer, which was translated in English, followed by a brief introduction about the Maori culture. We then departed the picturesque Campbells Cove and began on our Maori history journey along the streets of The Rocks.

Remaining piece of the original road that was built using the mighty Kauri trees from New Zealand (This is not the original wood used- it has been replaced)


We passed sandstones alleyways, laneways, breathtaking courtyards, the bustling Argyle Street, strolled down Maori Lane, and visited The Rocks Discovery Museum and the archaeological site at the Whalers Arms, which is near the historical Susannah Place Museum (built in 1844).

An original rope dating back to the colonial days can be discovered on this amazing Walking Tour.


Along the way, we stopped at significant Maori sites and were shown "photographs"/ drawings of Maori Warriors and other Maoris who came to The Rocks during the settlement times.

The archaeological site at the Whalers Arms where remnants are still found today.


The leisurely walk was extremely enjoyable with a few laughs here and there and Brent did an exceptional job sharing Maori history with us. It was such an informative activity and certainly shined a different light on this spectacular and iconic region of Sydney.

It felt like we stepped back into time at Susannah's Place- The image on the right is how this region of The Rocks looked and on the left this is how it looks today!


The Tour concluded with a beautiful Maori departing song near the archaeological site at the Whalers Arms.

Tours depart from Campbells Cove, The Rocks (near the big tree)- Outside 27 Circular Quay West. The Tour starts at 11am and ends at 1pm. Do note that some paths are uneven and include a few stairs.

One of the courtyards we discovered on the Tour that is filled with a rich history.


Bookings for the Poihakena Tours with Kotahi Tourism can be made through the FAMLY App.

FAMLY is Australia's first online and mobile app helping families discover, search and book fun, unique and engaging activities for pregnancy, kids and parents.

You can find out more about FAMLY on their website or follow on Facebook.

To make a booking for this tour, click here.
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*Gypsy Rose was invited as a guest
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Why? Discover & learn about the history of Maori in The Rocks.
When: Saturdays once a month- see website
Where: Meet at Campbells Cove Jetty, Circular Quay
Cost: Adults: $40pp, Children: $25pp, Family of four: $110
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