Starting a small Māori tourism business in a place that is only seen as a mimi (pee) stop on the way through to the Bay of Islands is no easy feat. We are breaking new ground in an industry that is unheard of in Whangarei, Tu Tika Tours Rangimarie Harding reflects.
“All in good time” is a quote we find ourselves saying when people ask about our journey into cultural tourism. Dealings with our local district council have never really been favorable for us as a small Māori tourism operator, but this blog has a positive spin.
We are fulfilling a dream we first had over 20 years ago to provide a real and awesome cultural experience that takes our visitors “beyond the piupiu” (a cool line I picked up when we needed a heading for a press release “Looking beyond the piupiu”).
Starting a small Māori tourism business in a place that is only seen as a mimi (pee) stop on the way through to the Bay of Islands is no easy feat. We are breaking new ground in an industry that is unheard of in Whangarei. Funnily enough, our district has one of the top 10 diving spots in the world and the little township that caters for that, Tutukaka, is more famous than the city it’s located in.
We have so much more to offer to our visitors here in Whangarei with an amazing amount of potential to go with it - we just need to get ourselves out there and tell the world what we have to offer and why they should call in here.
We’re probably the biggest thorn in our Regional Tourism Organisation’s side because we keep hassling them about how our beautiful Māori culture is under-represented in our rohe. All the information shared around our district starts from the early settlers, as if we we never existed pre-European.
Initially, it wasn’t easy persuading RTOs and local councils that we are exactly what our visitors what to find out about: how we connect to all the living forces around us, like our beautiful coastlines, our mountains that connect us to the land, the rivers that sustain us and most importantly us, the tangata whenua.
A meeting at the Whangarei District Council with the new Economic Development Manager changed our view for the first time in our dealings with the council. We really felt like this new guy was listening and that he understood what we were trying to do to promote our beautiful rohe. We must have sold him on the idea, because a few days after that meeting, he emailed us asking if we would like to produce a cultural visitor guide for Whangarei. “All in good time” had arrived and we had three months to design and publish a brochure.
My background is in sales and marketing and producing publications. We knew this would be the start of something special for our people and our rohe of Whangarei Terenga Paraoa, so we threw our hearts into it and published an amazing resource that we can all be proud of.
We organized a launch evening for the brochure at Terenga Paraoa Marae, supported by our Tourism Minister, Hon. Kelvin Davis and Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai along with tourism industry supporters. It was hugely successful and, combined with a beautiful hangi hakari and cultural entertainment, had the entire audience up off their seats singing and performing.
The Whangarei Cultural Visitor Guide is available in Whangarei i-SITEs. It is also about to be released in to all i-SITES in Auckland through to Northland.
We want to send out a massive kia ora to Whangarei District Council, NZ Māori Tourism, Nathan Clarke Ltd, Terenga Paraoa Marae and our Whangarei Māori Tourism businesses Stay Native, Pupurangi Hire & Tours and Tu Tika Tours.
Rangimarie – Tu Tika Tours