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The future is bright for Te Puia

27 April 2005

The future is bright for Te Puia, a Rotorua Maori tourism icon.

The extensive redevelopment of Te Puia in Rotorua heralds an exciting future for one of New Zealand's top tourist attractions, Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor and Associate Tourism Minister Dover Samuels said today.

Mr O'Connor and Mr Samuels are to attend a ceremony from 10am tomorrow to mark the start of construction work at the site.

Associate Tourism Minister Dover Samuels said the revamp was important for Maori and would enhance Te Puia's worldwide reputation.

"Te Puia has a long history of providing quality Maori tourism and geothermal experiences. This development highlights an awareness of the importance of developing facilities to improve the quality of experience for visitors.

Mr Samuels said the development represented an opportunity for Maori to promote their language, culture and assets to the world.

"Te Puia plays a key role as an education provider for Maori carvers and weavers. It is pleasing that Te Puia continues to place a strong emphasis on this important aspect.

"It will be an inspiration for other Maori tourism operators and the 13 Maori regional tourism organisations around the country."

Mr O'Connor said the visionary project was a great example of how the New Zealand tourism industry should continually innovate and improve to ensure it stays at the forefront of global tourism.

The project was the result of a partnership between the Labour-led government and Te Puia (formerly the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute) and recognises the government's commitment to transforming the New Zealand economy, Mr O'Connor said. It would result in 20 new full-time jobs.

"I would like to congratulate the board for its vision and its commitment to securing a strong future for Te Puia for many years to come."

Building work was expected to be completed in May next year.

Mr O'Connor said Rotorua played a vital part in New Zealand's tourism industry. "This latest development will add to a growing number of diverse experiences on offer to visitors, including the Skyline Skyrides facility, the Energy Events Centre, and events such as the World Mountain Bike Championships."

Start time:

The ceremony, at Te Puia, Hemo Rd, Rotorua, starts at 10am, with Tourism Minister Damien O'Connor scheduled to speak at 11am.

Project details and Te Puia history:

Te Puia is the new operating name of the New Zealand Mâori Arts and Crafts Institute (MACI). It is an entity created under the New Zealand Mâori Arts and Craft Institute Act 1963 (the Act) "to encourage, foster, and promote all types of Mâori culture, the practice and appreciation of Mâori arts and crafts, train Mâori in Mâori arts and crafts, provide demonstrations, exhibitions and performances and assist in the preservation of Mâori culture".

Although government-owned, Te Puia is funded through its own commercial activities. The Board consists of up to seven members appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister of Tourism.

The $17.5 million redevelopment is the result of a partnership between the Labour-led government and Te Puia. The government approved borrowing of $8.5 million last month to finance the development, subject to conditions.

Te Puia will use this funding to:

- build a new visitor centre and multi-media gallery ($2.4m);
- replace the existing shop ($2.0m);
- build an entrance tower ($1.3m);
- replace the carving and weaving schools ($2.1m); and
- create new and enhanced interpretation in the Whakarewarewa valley ($1.6m).

The remainder of the cost covers site preparation, infrastructure, professional fees, office refurbishment and a contingency of $2.3m. Construction begins in April 2006 with this event, and is scheduled to be finished by May 2007.

A condition of the Minister of Finance’s approval was that $3m of Te Puia’s cash reserves be kept aside until Te Puia has developed a cultural development strategy. The site redevelopment is an opportunity for Te Puia to review its activities in light of its cultural responsibilities, conferred upon it under the Act. Traditional carving and weaving have been the mainstays of the arts and crafts taught. The Ministry of Tourism has asked that Te Puia, in the process of developing its cultural development strategy, considers opportunities to add other arts and crafts to its offerings and the level at which arts and crafts are taught. The $3m is being kept aside to guarantee that there are resources available to implement the strategy.

The three key themes in the redevelopment will be:

- “Think Mâori” – in particular an animated audio visual experience at the point of entry as part of the new visitor centre to enable a fuller appreciation of Mâori culture;
- “Site Alive” –experience the site as a living environment with interactive displays featuring Mâori in relation to the land (e.g. hunting, food gathering and clothing); and
- “Living Huri Huri” – how stories are alive… through the Weaving and Carving schools.

Te Puia expects the redevelopment will:

- better promote and preserve Mâori culture;
- create a higher value attraction enabling higher prices;
- restore and enhance the landscape in the Whakarewarewa Valley;
- increase the annual surplus to $8m by 2010; and
- create 20 extra full-time equivalent jobs.

ENDS

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