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Still Healing After 400 Years

Ngawha Springs is reopening after a year-long $4.3 million refurbishment.


Ngawha Springs was and remains a popular destination for restorative healing. This photo was taken circa 1920 – one of the earliest photos ever taken of the site.

The geothermal waters of Ngawha Springs just 30km from the Bay of Islands have been sought after for centuries for their healing properties and the facility closed in March 2020 for a much-needed enhancement funded by the Provincial Growth Fund ($1.79 million), Foundation North ($1.8m), Lotteries ($710,000), Te Puni Kōkiri and Northland Inc.

Parahirahi Ngawha Waiariki Trust is kaitiaki (caretaker) of the springs, and Chair Dr Te Tuhi Robust says it was a happy coincidence the Trust took the opportunity to refurbish the springs at the onset of COVID-19 when it would have been forced to close anyway.

“It was the perfect time to reinvest in this sacred taonga (treasure) that is Ngawha Springs,” says Dr Robust.

“For more than 400 years, this ancient source of water direct from Papatūānuku has been a place for healing and rejuvenation. Now, post COVID-19, we are back better than ever as a place for locals and visitors can come for their health and wellbeing.

NZ Māori Tourism’s sales, marketing, and product development manager Kiri Atkinson-Crean believes the traveller emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic is drawn to deeper experiences operating in balance with the land, its people and culture and sharing authentic connection to these elements.

“Feedback from a number of OTA’s (online travel agents) tells us New Zealand and Australia are currently the most searched for destinations in the dream and planning phases,” says Ms Atkinson- Crean.

“And within New Zealand, those people are searching for alternatives to mass tourism, keen to be lifted out of the every day, away from throngs of people, to head off the beaten track, to experience nature and people who restore their souls.”

Accounts of Ngawha Springs date back to 1600 when Ngapuhi ancestress Kareariki discovered their curative powers, particularly those giving relief to mothers after childbirth.

Over time many have taken advantage of the healing qualities provided by the natural springs. Warring iwi and hapū would attend the pools together after battles to embrace its remedial value. The notable Ngapuhi warrior Hone Heke Pōkai used the pools following the battle of Mawhekairangi.
 

“Ngawha has always been special,” says Dr Robust. “When visitors come to enjoy the beauty of the

Bay of Islands, they are only 30km away from these healing thermal springs so steeped in history.

“It’s a short hop over the hill but a big step back in time.

“Visitors and locals can bathe in the healing waters at Ngawha Springs and let the ancient energy revitalise their senses while the minerals from deep in the earth permeate their body.”

See www.ngawha.nz for more information.

***About Ngawha Springs

Ngawha Springs are fed by natural geothermal spring waters. There are 16 mineral baths each with unique nutrient and temperature characteristics, used for centuries for relaxation as well as their therapeutic qualities and healing properties.

The Ngawha Springs are iconic to Ngapuhi who have always had a relationship with the healing waters valued for providing physical and spiritual wellbeing. They are culturally significant and have a rich social, environmental, and political history.

The Parahirahi Ngawha Waiariki Trust as kaitiaki has a responsibility to ensure that the springs are maintained and developed so that future generations can enjoy their healing waters.

Ngawha Springs will open to the public on Tuesday 27 April. A blessing and opening ceremony will be held on Friday 23 April for whanau and stakeholders from 6am followed by a parakuihi (breakfast) at 8:30am.

 

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