A memorial held at Rotorua's Buried Village has marked the 131st anniversary of the Mt Tarawera eruption.

Representatives of Ngati Rangitihi and Tuhourangi gather annually on June 10 to remember the 120 lives lost when the mountain erupted.

Surrounded by artefacts that have been recovered since the eruption and with the list of the deceased hanging in memorial behind him Tuhourangi kaumatua Anaru Rangiheuea welcomed the group that came together on Saturday morning.

The Maori settlements of Moura, Te Ariki, Te Tapahoro, Te Wairoa and Totarariki were destroyed in the eruption and Mr Rangiheuea's ancestors were among those who died.

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He opened with a prayer for those who passed away in "those fateful moments" in June 1886.

"This is an important day for us to come together as one whanau and remember our history," Mr Rangiheuea said.

"Fortunately we get to have many people through here [the Buried Village] to learn and hopefully retain that history."

Kenneth Raureti then spoke on behalf of the Ngati Rangitihi Trust.

"We go up the mountain every year, to remember up there the lives that were lost," he said.

"We have had some rainy and some windy and some beautiful moments up that mountain."

Mr Raureti gave special thanks to owner of the Buried Village Pam McGrath for opening the village on the memorial and her continued work in sharing the history of Te Wairo.

She said to the crowd it was a pleasure to be part of that history, before inviting those gathered to join her for morning tea.

The ceremony ended with a hymn, which brought some visitors to the village and members of the meeting to tears.