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Institute Set For Future Growth

Institute Set For Future Growth

Demand for cultural tourism and an authentic experience is steering the award-winning New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute in new directions as it embarks on its fifth decade in business.

A recent visit by the Tourism New Zealand's manager for India Kiran Nambiar was an eye opener to a burgeoning new market for New Zealand and the Maori Arts And Crafts Institute.

India has a rapidly growing middle class with high discretionary income and a yearn to travel Mr Nambiar says.

Indian visitors find the geothermal activity, the boiling mud and the pohutu geyser fascinating. He says as a new market group they have unique preferences for traveling that are unlike other nationalities such as most often traveling in groups of three or four families.

"Long experience in tourism means the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute can react quickly and positively to new visitor needs to ensure their travel experience is positive," he says.

Over the past forty years royalty, Prime Ministers, movie stars, international business leaders and colourful personalities of all shape and form have visited the Institute, along with over 40 million other tourists - making it one of the top tourist attractions in the country.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Te Whaiti says the Board is gearing up for major site expansion which will give visitors even greater opportunities to immerse in Maori culture while giving Maoridom opportunities to develop skills in carving and weaving. Almost 100 students have graduated from the Institute.

"We operate the business under a Government Act to reinvest in Maori arts, crafts and culture," he says. "Forty years ago, the social climate was different and we needed to revive and educate people about Maori arts, crafts and culture. Now, people all around the world are more interested in history, their own and other cultures, and we need to offer them a much more diverse and enriched experience."

Board chairman Robert Macfarlane says technology has made worldwide access to culture and history easier. "Many people get their information from the internet now, and they're traveling much more, so their expectations when they visit a place are different today than they were 40 years ago. They want to interact with people, touch and do things. They're not passive observers any more."

Macfarlane says the Institute's advantage is its history. "The site has been here for centuries and our path to success was created by our tupuna and through the ability of our guides to intertwine the story of our lives and culture with the natural thermal environment unique to us."

Macfarlane's father was one of the original Board members when it first met in May 1964.

"My father was always heavily involved in tribal affairs and actively participated in the establishment of the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. So, it's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's an honour to be chairing the Board at this time as we progress into the future."

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