Dressed in the clothes of 130 years ago, pupils from a Rotorua school have remembered those who died in the Tarawera eruption - as well as ancestors who survived.

Today, the 130th anniversary of the eruption that killed about 120 people, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu pupils spent the day commemorating the anniversary.

They visited the Buried Village of Te Wairoa then walked from Puarenga to the City Focus where they performed a couple of waiata (songs), before walking on to Ohinemutu.

Teacher Tiahomarama Fairhall said it was an important event for the school to commemorate as "a lot of us descended from those who survived".

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She said it was also important to remember those who died, "and to remember our heritage and history".

She said children did a karakia at the Buried Village, next to the house of Tuhoto Ariki, the high priest of the time, who was buried in the house for four to five days before he was found.

The group then made its way into town and from there Ohinemutu.

After the eruption the survivors had also made their way to Ohinemutu where the people of Ngati Whakaue fed and housed them, Whaea Fairhall said.

She said the school re-enacted the steps of the survivors, and also made 118 food baskets.

"We will be eating potatoes, kumara and soup - the food provided to the survivors at the time."

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The whole school took part and had previously studied the event.

"I do think it's very important that Rotorua, as a whole, should know about it, because it's a part of our history, but especially important to the tribes of Tuhourangi, Ngati Hinemihi and Ngati Rangitihi."

Maia Maurea Pirini-Werahiko, 14, said one of her favourite parts of the day had been the walk, "because we are doing what our ancestors did".

She said that it was also fun dressing up in the clothes of those days.