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Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island launch event

Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island launch event

Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Associate Minister of Tourism
Associate Tourism Minister Nanaia Mahuta's speech at the 'Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island Experience' launch in Rotorua.


It is a pleasure to be here today for the launch of the exciting new cultural and ecological tourism experience that is: the "Mokoia Island Wai Ora Experience". Firstly I would like to acknowledge some of the guests in attendance, my colleague the Hon Steve Chadwick - the Minister of Conservation. Also, Mr Trevor Maxwell - the Deputy Mayor of Rotorua, Mr Don Gunn - the General Manager of Destination Rotorua, and Mr Oscar Nathan - the Chairperson of 'Maori in Tourism Rotorua'.

I would also like to acknowledge those key groups and individuals that have worked hard to bring this dream to fruition. To the Mokoia Island Trust, made up of the four Te Arawa hapu, Ngai Whakaue, Ngati Rangiteaorere, Ngati Rangiwewehi and Ngati Uenukukopako, who have worked for many years to realise Mokoia Island as a premier cultural, environmental and tourism experience. Kia Ora.

To Mr Bryan Hughes and Tatou Holdings Ltd, who have led this project. Bryan will speak to you soon. However he has expressed his aspiration that, whilst the Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island Experience will continue to develop over time, his goal is that it will become one of the world's premier cultural and ecological tourism attractions. They certainly have the track record to build on, with their quality spa and ecological tourism businesses: 'Hell's Gate / Wai Ora Spa' in Rotorua, and their 'Wai Ora Spa' complex in Bangkok, Thailand.

With that, I would like to take this opportunity to also congratulate Bryan and Tatou Holdings for winning the 'Innovation' and 'Visitor Attraction' sections at this year's Tourism Industry Awards for their Hell's Gate / Wai Ora Spa complex in Rotorua.

The Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island Experience and NZ Tourism Strategy 2015
The Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island Experience is also ideally placed to capitalise on our domestic and international visitors seeking a quality Maori tourism experience. Recent Ministry of Tourism data indicates that of the 567,000 adult tourists who experienced a Maori tourism product in New Zealand in 2006, 446,000 did so in Rotorua. Of that latter number, 89% were international visitors.

After learning more about the Wai Ora Mokoia Island Experience, I can also see that its aims align with the key goals in the recently released New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2015. The two key principles of the Strategy are kaitiakitanga - of our environment and culture, and manaakitanga toward our visitors.

The Strategy advocates that New Zealand delivers a world class visitor experience, and it identifies Maori culture as offering a uniqueness that sets New Zealand apart from the rest of the world. It acknowledges the huge potential for 'authentic' Maori products and experiences, and expresses the need to achieve all goals in a manner that is sustainable from environmental, cultural, and economic perspectives. From what I see here, Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island Experience shares these goals, and seeks to achieve and extend on them as far as possible.

The Strategy also identifies the key role that our stories and heritage play in providing the depth and meaning that will attract tourists, and make their stay unforgettable. I am very aware of the rich narratives that this island holds. We all know the story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai, but what a memorable experience for a traveller to hear the story on the Island, then see and perhaps experience Waikimihia, the pool where Hinemoa rested after her swim.

These stories and matauranga will also complement the scientific knowledge relating to the flora and fauna present on the Island, such as the Kiwi and Saddleback species. This will also appeal to the fast growing eco and bird watching tourism industries.

Wai Ora Spa - Mokoia Island seems poised to deliver a quality product that combines kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga, with local history and culture, ecology, and a premier spa facility.

I congratulate Bryan, Tatou Holdings, the Mokoia Island Trust and all of you involved, and wish you all the best in the future. I am sure that your many visitors will be the first to show their appreciation of the unique experiences you have to offer.

No reira tenei te mihi atu kia koutou katoa, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


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