New Zealand's tourism icon set to celebrate 50th anniversary

This October, New Zealand cultural and tourism icon - Te Puia|New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute - will formally celebrate the 50th Anniversary of its establishment under an Act of Parliament, and visitors to the attraction over the coming months will also have the opportunity to join in the celebrations.

Te Puia, Rotorua. Credit Fraser Clements
Carving restoration, artworks, special events, new visitor experiences and much more will all form part of the anniversary calendar that commences with a VIP dinner and Movies in the Pā Festival in November, and finishes with a unique Christmas Carols event on December 14.
The key highlight of the events festival is expected to be a "Show Bands in the Pā" concert on Saturday November 30 that celebrates the musical legacy of Rotorua iwi, Te Arawa, by combining the best of the Māori Showbands era with contemporary artists and arrangements. Popular young artists Ria Hall and boy-band Titanium have already been confirmed, with others to be added to the bill in the coming weeks.
Originally legislated in 1926, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute’s (NZMACI) mandated cultural interests were combined with tourism in Rotorua’s Te Whakarewarewa Valley following the broadening of the Act in 1963. The legislation was developed largely through the auspices of prominent Māori politician and lawyer Sir Apirana Ngata. One of his descendents, Lance Ngata, is a carver and project manager at NZMACI today.
Te Puia Chief Executive, Tim Cossar, says the collaboration of tourism and cultural development first outlined in the 1963 Act are even stronger today, with two distinct brands, Te Puia for the tourism activities, and NZMACI, for cultural perpetuation and development.
"Although much has changed here over time, the commitment to the legacy of guiding and to the protection and perpetuation of our ancestral beliefs, art forms and traditions has remained constant. We are proud of our legacy of manaaki (hospitality) and we remain committed to caring for our unique physical and cultural environment."
Mr Cossar says Te Puia and NZMACI remain a local, tribal, national and international icon and the 50 year milestone is an opportunity to reflect upon the achievements of the organisation and the legacy that is the arts and crafts institute and Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley.
"We have a lot to celebrate. Our people have welcomed and guided visitors through Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley for more than 170 years and have acted as kaitiaki (guardians) since long before that.
"Our 50 Year celebration events have been developed as an invitation to New Zealanders to revisit our iconic valley, to relive what may be childhood memories and to create new ones for the future. At the same time, these events add a whole new experience to our international manuhuri as they will be part of something very special."
Mr Cossar says visitors to Te Puia|NZMACI continue to directly support Aotearoa New Zealand’s cultural objectives through its tourism revenues.
"Their contribution funds important work such as training our nation’s future carvers and weavers, restoring and building meeting houses, as well as being proudly connected with the recent historic ten-month Waka Tapu voyage across the Pacific."
Mr Cossar says Te Puia is constantly innovating to stay relevant in an evolving and highly competitive tourism market, whilst remaining true to its strong cultural heritage and traditions.
"Already our 50th year has brought with it a range of new experiences, such as the Steambox, which involves manuhiri (visitors) selecting the food they would like cooked for lunch in one of the Valley’s traditional steam vents, Ngā Whā Puapua. After a guided tour around Te Puia|NZMACI, guests enjoy their Steambox picnic on the geyser terrace, over-looking the world famous Pohutu Geyser."
Leading up to the significant half-century milestone, visitors will also be able to watch the replicated carving of a waharoa (entranceway) that is widely regarded as one of the historic symbols of Rotorua and cultural tourism. Other important restoration and carving work will also be undertaken over the coming months, including at the Te Aronui a Rua wharenui (sacred meeting house) and it’s Pātaka - a richly carved storehouse used to store the taonga (treasures) of chiefs.
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