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SPTO Judges NZ Maori Tourism Dragons’ Den

17 August 2018, Suva, FIJI - NZ Māori Tourism held the inaugural Dragons Den and SPTO CEO Chris Cocker was a judge in the category of “Bring your idea to life” for start-up Māori tourism experiences.

“Te Rua o Ngā Taniwha or Dragon’s Den is a generator of ideas and passion from the Maori Tourism industry.

“It was such an eye opener and inspiration to judge these finalists, the Dragons’ Den attracted 97 applications across four categories, with five groups receiving top honours. Congratulations to the Whakapaumahara Marae in Northland and its proposed Whananaki eco-kainga visitor experience”.

The winners received $20,000 NZD and the new cultural tourism experience impressed the judges with its alignment of technology, tradition and manaakitanga (hospitality), as well as its potential to create opportunities for new jobs, growth and development for the people of Ngāti Wai.

The proposed venture will integrate new technology tracking the ancient flight path of the Tukaiaia a sacred ancestral bird of Ngāti Wai on its journey from China to Aotearoa. The 4 hour coastal walk will incorporate solar powered ‘pou’, audio technology with explanations in the Chinese language, accounts about the celestial and seasonal significance of the lunar calendar and a footbridge that links North and South Whananaki. Visitors will also experience a traditional welcome.

Mr Cocker also added that there was an opportunity to replicate a similar platform for the Pacific.

“Innovation and culture are key to sustainable tourism, I’ve seen first hand awesome ideas from individuals who are passionate about culture, hospitality and our tourism industry, I think providing a space to pitch innovative ideas with incentives will bring out the best the Pacific has to offer for our tourism industry” said Mr Cocker.

NZ Māori Tourism invited SPTO to encourage closer ties between Māori tourism and Pacific tourism, and to provide further opportunities to build upon the relationships between SPTO members, and Māori tourism experiences.

Mr Cocker’s attendance was hosted by the NZ Maori Tourism and he is thankful for the opportunity to be apart of this great event and congratulates them on its success.


About SPTO
Established in 1983 as the Tourism Council of the South Pacific, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is the mandated organisation representing Tourism in the region. Its 18 Government members are American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia,

Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the People’s Republic of China. In addition to government members, the South Pacific Tourism Organisation enlists a private sector membership base.

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