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Kaikohe the next international cultural tourism destination

Kaikohe the next major international cultural tourism destination

Kaikohe has the potential to be a major centre of cultural tourism by virtue of its central locality and rich history. On Sunday afternoon over 20 people braved the weather to attend a public meeting held at the Kaikohe RSA to further discuss a proposal to build a pā as a tourist a tourist attraction in Kaikohe. It was pleasing to see a lot of young people at the meeting, including some who had hands on experience with the Te Hana Community Development Charitable Trust.

In Te Hana, the 17th century traditional Māori village, Cultural Tourism and Education Centre has provided educational courses for youth from Te Hana, Wellsford and the wider Rodney area. The courses have been running for two years and the positive outcomes and successes are outstanding. Local police anecdotally report a 90% reduction in petty crime and fully support the initiative. Currently 130 students attend classes in carving, weaving, horticulture, computing and radio broadcasting. The courses are facilitated by North Tec and Te Waananga o Aotearoa.

The point of difference with the Kaikohe proposal is that it is not a 17th century Māori village. The proposal is a reconstruction of the formidable fighting pā of the 19th century, never encountered before by the imperial troops of the British Empire. History records that the famous Ruapekapeka pā was deliberately designed to lure the imperial troops deep inland from the Bay of Islands. This proposed tourist attraction seeks the same objective, to lure tourists inland. Tourism could become Kaikohe’s next big export market, creating employment opportunities and improved social outcomes.

The proposal raises practical concerns and cultural issues which need to be thoroughly assessed before going to far down the track. Other exciting proposals and activities are in the making. A local tourism board could be set up to address these matters and to encourage local owner operators to participate in this growing market. It was noted that without support from local kaumatua and kuia the project could falter but if kotahitanga (unity) is achieved many benefits could flow on to directly uplift the community. The proposed tourism board would be community owned and driven while capitalizing on relationships with outside expertise in the tourism sector. The purpose of the local tourism board would be to encourage the development of a cluster of Māori and cultural tourism operators and associated stakeholders in Kaikohe for their mutual support, sustainable development, and the wider socio-economic benefit of Kaikohe.


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