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What The Hawaiians Learned From Our Maori Cousins

What The Hawaiians Learned From Our ‘Maori Cousins’

‘The Art of Raranga’

Rotorua, New Zealand – 29 September 2006. For many, the notion of talking to a tourism giant such as Hawaii about ‘how we do it’ may be akin to ‘telling your grandmother how to suck eggs’, but not so for Te Puia chief executive officer, Andrew Te Whaiti.

As a guest speaker at the annual Hawaii Tourism Conference, Andrew addressed Hawaiian tourism operators and the central tourism board about adding a cultural component to their tourism offering referred to by Te Puia as ‘The Art of Raranga’ – Making a success of Cultural Tourism.

Andrew says that the key objective is to get “mana and money without compromising cultural integrity.” To this end Andrew believes that the success of cultural tourism requires a delicate balance, or weaving ‘Raranga’ which is of great cultural significance to Maori.

Hawaii Tourism New Zealand representative, Darragh Walshe says that the sharing of the Te Puia model and experience with Hawaii proved both inspirational and invaluable to adding depth and breadth to the spirit of ‘Aloha’. Walshe commented that retaining the cultural elements of the Hawaiian experience is a key component in expanding the visitor experience and revitalising the tourism offerings available.

Walshe says that “like New Zealand, Hawaii has a unique culture and tradition and showcasing the native Hawaiian elements in an authentic way will offer not only the native Hawaiian people but also the destination an array of incremental tourism opportunities as well as affording these people an elevated sense of purpose and mana.”

Using the art of ‘Raranga’ as a basis for his presentation, Te Whaiti demonstrated to the Hawaiians the four key threads Te Puia use in weaving their own unique tourism, offering. These are; commerce, the past, the future and culture. “Pull too much in one direction, the thread will weaken and like a woven mat it will fall out of shape” says Andrew.

Following ‘The Rotorua Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act 1963’, The New Zealand Institute of Maori Arts and Crafts incorporating the Whakarewarewa geothermal park was opened in 1965. Since then Te Puia, as it is now known has grown into New Zealand’s most visited cultural attraction. Totally self funded, Te Puia has since its inception had an underpinning philosophy of guiding and manaakitanga or caring and sharing. This has included sharing an extraordinary cultural and geothermal experience with visitors from around the world and caring for young people through apprenticeships in the world acclaimed carving school and weaving school.

As 2006 draws to a close, Te Puia will be well advanced in the next stage of its journey to contemporise their tourism offering through an ambitious expansion project that is a fusion of leading edge technology with traditional culture and art forms. Te Puia will be using “Wellywood’s” 3D creative workshop who are leaders in tourism interpretation to deliver a revitalised visitor experience that will showcase Maori culture in a 21st century context.

Andrew says that “the principle of guiding is an integral part of Te Puia’s identity and if others can benefit from the investment and efforts of Te Puia then it is all the more worthwhile, be this in the form of a memorable visitor experience or for another culture to benefit from our experiences as we hope Hawaii will in the future.”


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