Māori Tourism experiences in Gisborne, Nelson and Christchurch

Māori Tourism experiences in Gisborne, Nelson and Christchurch

In honour of Te Wiki o te reo Māori (Māori language week), we meet more of the country’s tourism operators offering experiences that celebrate te ao Māori

Taonga by Timoti, Nelson Tasman

Timoti and Morganne Moran

How does your tourist experience celebrate te ao Maori?

As a whānau we live te ao Māori and by default, when people are hosted by us, they experience the tikanga we live by. Tikanga that is specific to greenstone, carving and manaakitanga. We engage in karakia (prayer), explore our awa (river), Rakautara, work with pounamu (greenstone), share a kai and kōrero and the wairua of pounamu connects it all, and connects us all.

Māori Tourism experiences in Gisborne, Nelson and Christchurch

Timoti Moran, owner-operator of Nelson-based tourism experience Taonga by Timoti (centre, kneeling) with guests. Photo / Supplied

What can guests expect on a tour with you?

To be treated like whānau. To explore our whenua and our awa. To be given knowledge, to experience carving, to understand the traditions and customs that go with this mahi (work) and to hear pūrākau (history and creation narratives) tied to pounamu. Not everybody is after the same experience, so we have three options for people, based on their available time with us, ranging from four hours to a full day.

We want our manuhiri (guests) to “carve their own story” so they leave us having shaped their own taonga (treasure) which speaks of them and holds its own wairua. We want them to leave feeling inspired and empowered to continue their journey into te ao Māori.

What’s your favourite thing about the job?

We get to share skills and knowledge with our manuhiri and provide a safe place for them to learn and connect with pounamu. We get to witness the connection that is made between our manuhiri and that one of a kind taonga. It is a real honour to be a part of that journey with each and every one of them.

Do you have a favourite whakataukī relating to what you do?

Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou

Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing


Āmiki Tours, Ōtautahi Christchurch

Cate Grace
Kaiwhakahaere / CEO

How do your tours/experiences celebrate te ao Maori ?

We are proud to be Māori owned and operated. Our guides celebrate their heritage and embrace all the different cultures that brought them to live in Ōtautahi. Following our guiding principles of manaakitanga, whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga (guardianship). We share our home town in a unique way honouring our Māori and many diverse cultures. Each cultural tour celebrates the new, the old and the bold that has emerged from a decade of disasters, weaving in our tipuna (ancestors) stories at significant Māori sites along our routes.

Māori Tourism experiences in Gisborne, Nelson and Christchurch

Riwai Grace, guide and owner-operator for Ōtautahi Christchurch's Āmiki Tours – walking tours that explore the history and legends of the region. Photo / Supplied

What can guests expect on a tour/experience with you?

Āmiki is the Māori word for deep storytelling and we believe that Canterbury has an exciting and vibrant culture and culinary story just waiting to be shared. We begin our tours with mihi whakatau (welcome) and karakia to keep you safe on your journey. You then learn about the creation story of Ranginui (Sky Father) and Pāpātuanuku, and hear our nan’s story of how the hongi brought to life Tane’s wife.

We continue to weave in our ancestors’ stories from Hawaiki and from the European ships they arrived in. Our cultural food tours celebrate the diversity that is modern-day Ōtautahi. From stories of gathering māhinga kai on the banks of the river to tasting some of our finest modern-day food. Guests arrive as strangers and leave as friends.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Just one is so hard. I don’t really feel like this is a job. Our tipuna would share our stories orally passed down through the generations so the pūrakau (legends) are with us now. We are kaitiaki which means we are preserving our history and the stories of now for generations to come.

As our home town rebuilds after our decade of disasters we have so many positive stories and unique experiences to share with visitors. It makes us sad when people leave without learning all about the diverse culture and kai we have to offer from this region, so sharing that is also why we love what we do. Guests leave as friends and whānau and take away something to love about Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Do you have a favourite whakatauki relating to what you do?

Kia mau koe ki ngā kupu ō ōu tipuna. Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua.

Hold fast to the words of your ancestors. Care for the land. Care for the people. Go forward.

Maunga Hikurangi, Tairāwhiti Gisborne

Monty Manuel
Operations Manager and head guide

How do your tours/experiences celebrate te ao Māori?

Our Maunga Hikurangi experience tours welcome manuhiri to our sacred mountain, Hikurangi Maunga, and immerse them into our Ngāti Porou culture. We share with our guests the stories about our mountain, our surrounding area known as Te Tairāwhiti, and our whakapapa (genealogy) with tales of our ancestors – from Paikea, the whale rider to Porourangi, the eponymous ancestor of our Ngāti Porou tribe.

Māori Tourism experiences in Gisborne, Nelson and Christchurch

Sunrise at Maunga Hikurangi in Tairawhiti Gisborne. Photo / Strike Photography

The highlight of our tours are the stories of our legendary ancestor Maui Tikitiki a Taranga and the nine magnificent pou whakairo (carved posts) that stand on our mountain at a place we call Te Takapau a Māui (Māui Whakairo). It is here that our guides will share the story of Māui and his legends and stories of our Ngāti Porou people.

Throughout our tours we share with our manuhiri our manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga and whanaungatanga with our area and our maunga.

What can guests expect on a tour/experience with you?

Our tours start in the small township of Ruatoria with a mihi whakatau (welcome) and introduction by our guides to our manuhiri followed by a karakia to bless us on our journey for the day. We then travel to our Ngāti Porou Farm, Pakihiroa Station (part of Pakihiroa Farms Ltd) at the foot of Mount Hikurangi, before travelling up the Hikurangi track by 4WD mountain buggy to an elevation of 1100m.

We offer two tours to Mount Hikurangi and the Māui Whakairo, our Te Urunga Tu Sunrise tour and our Haramai Day tour. The Te Urunga Tu tour is our premium tour where we hope to enjoy a beautiful sunrise with manuhiri at the first place of mainland New Zealand to greet the sun each day. Our Haramai Day tour is for those who prefer a later start to the day. On both tours guests enjoy our culture, our stories and beautiful scenic views. There’s plenty of time to interact and share stories with our guides as well as photo opportunities to capture your visit and the first rays of the sun.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The highlight of my mahi is meeting people from all over the world and Aotearoa New Zealand and sharing our beautiful piece of paradise with them. I love that I am working for our people, learning our stories from our elders and sharing this knowledge with our guests to provide them with a special connection to our culture. So I feel very lucky and privileged to guide on our maunga. It’s a very special place that I get to enjoy and share with our manuhiri.

Do you have a favourite whakatauki relating to what you do?

Tu tonu mai koe Maunga Hikurangi, tuohu ko nga uri e
Maunga Hikurangi has stood from time immemorial, we its people stand in awe and respect of it

Hikurangi is our sacred mountain and this whakatauki emphasises the connection we have with our maunga. In all aspects of our tours we are aware of the significance of our mountain to our iwi and providing an authentic cultural experience ensures its mana is upheld.


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