Maori Tourism Legacy Honoured
Aotearoa's first tourist guides and hosts have been honoured for their pioneering contribution to the development of tourism in New Zealand. The people of Te Arawa hapu, Tuhourangi of Lake Tarawera and Whakarewarewa, were formally acknowledged for their contribution to NZ tourism at a dawn ceremony on Tue 23 October 2013. The tribe was honoured with a carved wooden pou presented by Tourism NZ and Te Puia-NZ Maori Arts & Crafts Institute.
Tuhourangi were New Zealand's first hosts, welcoming and guiding domestic and international visitors to the Pink and White Terraces. Visitors came from around the world to experience the wonders of the silica terraces and the famed hospitality of the guides. The terraces were considered to be the eighth natural wonder of the world before they were destroyed in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera which devastated surrounding villages and killed 153 people.
The pou which is positioned beside the original site of Hinemihi meeting house at Te Wairoa, marks the entrance to the new Tarawera Trail walking track. Tuhourangi kaumatua, Mauriora Kingi, said the acknowledgement of the tribe as early tourism pioneers was significant and gave recognition, not only of the generations that had gone before, but those who remained today. He said the pou also acknowledged an even closer working relationship for local iwi, Tourism NZ, Rotorua and Te Puia.
"This is a significant and holistic step for all those involved and will assist with the cultural development and preservation of Maori culture in both Rotorua and throughout Aotearoa," Mauriora said. Tourism NZ Chief Executive, Kevin Bowler, said the organisation was proud to honour the place and people involved in the birth of tourism in Aotearoa. "This place is at the heart of early tourism in New Zealand and epitomises the absolute uniqueness of what Maori still bring to tourism in Aotearoa."
Rotorua Daily Post
23 Oct 2013