The real Maori experience
A new tourism venture that aims to give visitors an authentic experience of Maori culture and history was launched at the Omaka Marae yesterday.
Maori Experiences general manager Kiley Nepia led about 30 Marlborough tourism operators on the first Maori Experiences tour.
The group was invited to get a taste of what the tour offered so they could "rave about it to their clients", Mr Nepia said.
Mr Nepia began thinking about starting a cultural tour business a couple of years ago after noticing many international tourists were leaving New Zealand without having an authentic Maori experience.
"[I decided] it was time to put up or shut up."
His business would provide tourists with an intimate experience of Maori culture.
"We aren't actors, this is our marae," he said.
Groups will be welcomed onto the marae with a powhiri, learn Maori words through games and hear about the history of the area.
They will also enjoy traditional food such as "napa" bread.
"It's the kind of bread that we grew up with, but now it's nice and trendy," he said.
Te Aroha O Te Waipounamu meeting house at Omaka Marae was a place "of importance and ritual, and it was great to be able to take international visitors there to make cultural connections", Mr Nepia said.
Interest in Maori culture was growing internationally and the challenge was to deliver the experience to visitors in an innovative and intimate way.
His company would also be running Aroha Marlborough tours to give visitors the chance to "experience Marlborough history through Maori eyes".
They will learn about the region's "moa-hunter history", and visit the Marlborough Museum and the Wairau Bar.
Marlborough Museum chief executive Steve Austin said tourists wanted to learn and have a genuine experience while on holiday.
- The Marlborough Express