Māori tourism to feature prominently during Rugby World Cup

Tourists arriving in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup seeking to enjoy Māori culture and tourism won’t be disappointed. Māori tourism operators have been collaborating with mainstream tourism operators and Discover Māori, a guide for visitors seeking all things Māori, has been developed to provide tourists with a resource on Māori tourism offerings.

Discover Māori features over 100 Māori tourism and retail outlets nationwide and will be available at all 89 i-SITES around the country. Discover Māori caters to the growing demand from international tourists seeking Māori tourism experiences, ranging from eco-tours, adventure activities, cafes, to art galleries and more. Te Puni Kōkiri has worked closely with Poutama Trust, New Zealand Māori Tourism and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to develop the brochure and select operators. Te Puni Kōkiri and ATEED have also provided training to tourism providers, such as Air New Zealand, on Māori tourism offerings.

“Tourists coming to New Zealand are increasingly seeking tours and events linked to Māori people and culture. It was with this in mind that Discover Māori was created to provide visitors with information on where they can find uniquely Māori accommodation and tours”, said Pania Tyson-Nathan the New Zealand chief executive of the Māori Tourism council.

“The guide features Māori legends of creation, and offers a unique glimpse into Māori mythology and culture. Tourists will have a richer touring experience by knowing the Māori legend behind geographical features around New Zealand."

Vonesse Walker from the Poutama Trust, one of the other partners in the venture, says, “We have been supporting Māori Tourism businesses for about ten years now and recently we’ve helped revamp their website and developed an online booking system".

“These (RWC 2011) projects have been motivated by the Cup, and are creating some innovative and practical work between the Māori tourism sector and our major tourism agencies. We think these will deliver some real results. However, our goal is that these relationships continue in the long term, and lead to new, joint projects that will deliver benefit to Māori tourism operators, and support our tourism offer overall," said Turei Reedy, Project Advisor Tourism, Rugby World Cup 2011 Project Team at Te Puni Kōkiri.

Māori have a natural ability to manaaki visitors and a desire to share experiences unique to New Zealand. Māori culture and the Māori dimension of New Zealand society is of great interest to many of our overseas visitors.

Marae have also been getting into gear, with two Te Māhurehure and Te Hana Marae in Auckland, achieving Qualmark grading that attests to the standards that tourists will have during their stay at these marae. Marae accommodation will offer tourist communal living facilities, not unlike that of a kibbutz.

Te Puni Kōkiri has also been working with Rugby New Zealand 2011 and Tourism New Zealand, to establish a dedicated ‘Māori Cultural Accommodation’ tab on the RWC 2011 web portal. The ‘Māori’ accommodation tab features Māori operators that offer subtle or significant Māori cultural concepts, or practices, as a part of their accommodation. It will also feature the marae who have received the Qualmark Marae Stay Experience grading.