Untapped potential in Hawke’s Bay Maori tourism

Untapped potential in Hawke’s Bay Maori tourism

Plans to develop a Maori tourism group to increase visitor experience and employment opportunities in Hawke’s Bay are progressing through Matariki, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

The redevelopment of Peak House, located on Te Mata Peak in Havelock North, was just one initiative under way to create a group to release the untapped potential of Maori tourism in Hawke’s Bay.

Project lead and tourism operator Toro Waaka said Peak House, formerly a restaurant and functions venue, would soon reopen as a boutique conference centre, cafe and function facility.

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“This place offers so many unexplored opportunities. In time we hope to have trainee hospitality staff here for work experience, and there is scope for baristas, wait staff and junior chefs to develop their skills.

“We could also use this space as a place to train Maori tour guides, to help them develop their storytelling skills, their appreciation of this land and the value of eco-tourism.”

Mr Waaka said developing Maori tourism in Hawke’s Bay would enhance the sector that traditionally focused on Western culture such as Art Deco and the wine industry.

“Tourism is the biggest income leader for the country. We’re in Hawke’s Bay and we can count on one hand the number of Maori tourism attractions.

“People find it hard to find one and do come to New Zealand for the environment and to engage in New Zealand culture of which Maori culture is a very interesting aspect.”

He said there was much to explore in the region and initiatives to develop hunting and fishing guides and youth-focused Mohaka River activities such as rafting were already in the works.

“Hawke’s Bay does have a lot of beautiful places in the hinterland but the average local, let alone tourist, has never been there. They don’t even know what’s out there. They seem to hug the cities and the beach.”

It was important the wider East Coast region collaborated with one another to develop a range of experiences that couldn’t be bypassed, he said.

“I believe the whole of the East Coast needs to work as one because the competitive trail is Auckland, Taupo, Rotorua and straight down to Wellington. Tourists miss us out so we need to be encouraging them to turn the wheel and come down this way.”