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NZMACI mandate protected with Government fund

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Nanaia Mahuta

Sir Āpirana Ngata’s vision of ensuring the protection and perpetuation of Māori art and craft will live on – despite the impact of COVID-19 – thanks to a $7.6 million Government contribution for the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI), located at Te Puia in Rotorua.

The $7.6 million contribution – to be paid over two years – is part of the Government’s Rebuilding Together Budget. Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed the details during a site visit to Te Puia | NZMACI today <>.

NZMACI was first established in 1926 under the guidance of Sir Āpirana Ngata, who recognised that Māori arts and culture were integral to preserving tribal knowledge and identity.

NZMACI was officially combined with Te Whakarewarewa Valley’s tourism interests in 1963 under Government legislation. It now houses Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau o Aotearoa | The National Wood Carving School, Te Rito | The National Weaving School, Te Tapuwae o te Waka | The National Canoe School, Te Takapū-o-Rotowhio | The National Stone and Bone Carving School ('Te Takapū’) and Te Ahi Kōmau (casting workshop).

Today, NZMACI’s legislative mandate is financially supported by Te Puia, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most iconic visitor destinations. However, due to the obvious impacts of COVID-19, the visitor operation closed its doors in March and is not expected to open for several months.

Te Puia | NZMACI Chief Executive, Tim Cossar says the Government’s funding package will literally ensure the survival of the Institute’s cultural activities for the next two years, while it’s visitor operation reboots and recovers.

“Like every other visitor attraction in New Zealand, we have been significantly impacted by COVID-19. However, unlike any other tourism business, our activity also includes a cultural protection and development operation that is mandated under law.

“Since 1963, our cultural Institute has been self-funded thanks to millions of manuhiri since then from around New Zealand and the world. Understandably, this has been under threat in recent months and our Schools were closed as a result in March.

“This has been a tough period for everyone involved with Te Puia | NZMACI and the hard times are not yet over. Tourism markets have stopped and our business, as we knew it, became unviable to remain open.

“But thanks to this contribution from the New Zealand Government, we can safeguard the ongoing development of Māori art and craft, and ensure its longevity under Sir Āpirana Ngata’s original vision,” says Mr Cossar.

Mr Cossar says some of NZMACI’s master carvers and heads of schools had been retained during its forced restructure two months ago, however, the funding will allow it to progressively build back capability throughout 2020 and beyond.

“In the meantime, we are working extremely hard to ensure we are in the best place possible to provide a contemporary Māori and geothermal offering for our domestic – and eventually international – visitor market once again.

“Many of our whānau are just the latest in several generations to carve and/or guide in Te Whakarewarewa Valley – and they won’t be the last. The legacy of this place stems back nearly 150 years, when guides were first hosting manuhiri to the Pink and White Terraces.

“The plans and changes we make now will ensure that this legacy continues for another 150 years.”

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