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Visit Te Puia at Rotorua for a unique blend of experiences

Larissa Bilyard - 12/08/05

Te Puia is an umbrella brand with three sub-brands - the geothermal valley, Maori cultural experiences and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

The country's most popular tourism icon, The New Zealand Maori Arts And Crafts Institute has a new name ≠ Te Puia.

Meaning geyser or geothermal, Te Puia is the name of the hill behind the famous Pohutu, ≠ the world's most easily accessible geyser.

Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti says that Te Puia has always been a place of sanctuary and now its name is appropriately used in association with protecting traditional Maori arts, crafts and culture.


Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti in front of Pohutu geyser.
Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti in front of Pohutu geyser.

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"In times of threat, the people of Whakarewarewa would retreat to the safety of Te Puia, which is ringed by a moat of boiling water and mud ≠ a dangerous place for any attacking party who didn't know the area," Te Whaiti says.

The new name brings with it an entire rebranding process, where Te Puia will become the umbrella name for the three distinct experiences on offer. The branding brief required looking from within and from the past, to find the path forward.

Te Whaiti says it's important that people realise that The New Zealand Maori Arts And Crafts Institute name has not been completely lost, but repositioned as one of the three sub-brands.

"Before there was no distinction between the educational and training aspects of the carving school and the visitor attractions. Most visitors thought they were seeing a carving display rather than a working school set up to protect traditional Maori arts," Te Whaiti says.

"By separating the carving and weaving schools from the other attractions, while still retaining The New Zealand Maori Arts And Crafts Institute name, we have clearly positioned it as a school of higher learning."

Te Puia's redevelopment plans include an enlarged working space for the carving and weaving schools and a new exhibition gallery.

Te Whaiti says the three sub-brands will make it easier to market Te Puia to appropriate audiences.

"Part of the reason we went to an umbrella brand of Te Puia with three sub-brands - the geothermal valley, Maori cultural experiences and the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute - was to clearly define that we have three separate attractions; you can see them individually or see them all.

"The geothermal valley and cultural experiences on offer at Te Puia are the biggest drawcards for tourists. However not all international travellers are interested in both.

"Tourists from countries with extensive cultural backgrounds, such as India and Australia, are often here to see the geothermal valley and Pohutu, which to them is a spectacular site.


Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley.
Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley.

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ďAs part of our recent rebranding process we did quite extensive offshore market research. We found some Australians feel they have enough contact with New Zealand or Maori living in Australia and they think they know the culture. Some Australians come looking for the cultural experience, others come wanting to see the geothermal activity and are surprised by the depth of the culture when they get here.

"English tourists on the other hand are fascinated by Maori culture. By separating the three aspects of Te Puia we can market ourselves more appropriately to the various tourist markets."

Nature Walk Opened Alongside Te Puia Launch
Korero Tuku Iho, ≠ the new nature walk, was officially opened at the same time as the Te Puia name and brand were launched.

The nature walk has been designed to share the stories of Te Puia and the history of the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley.

The section of the trail opened at the launch is only a third of what will eventually be a two-hour nature walk through the valley.

. Andrew Te Whaiti says Korero Tuku Iho offers an interactive experience of the sights and sounds, using minimal signage.

"The intuitive nature of the walk overcomes language barriers to traditional signage and gives tour guides great tools for story-telling.

"Walkers will need to study their surroundings carefully to see things like tools, carvings, drying berries and flax racks. They'll also be encouraged to take their shoes off and feel the warmth of the path and sometimes even the earth's vibrations," Te Whaiti says.

Korero Tuku Iho has been designed to blend into the environment to look as though it's always been there. The two-hour track, which will be developed over the coming months, will be styled to the same effect.

Te Whaiti says tourism is an exciting industry that's growing quickly in New Zealand and will change over time.

He says Rotorua is blessed to have authentic Maori cultural experiences, and unique and accessible geothermal activity and natural beauty and great terrain for outdoor pursuits.

"In international tourism terms, Rotorua is quite something and that's the feedback we get offshore."

Australian visitors endorse this view - Te Puia Wins Australian Tourism Award

Australians have voted Rotorua tourism attraction Te Puia the best place to visit in the North Island.

Customers of Grand Pacific Tours ≠ a New Zealand coach holiday specialist company based in Australia ≠ voted Te Puia as the best visitor attraction in the North Island.

Te Puia sales manager (Australia) Jimmy Hignett collected the award at Grand Pacific Tour's Gala Awards ceremony in Melbourne on Saturday night, August 6.

Tourism leader and Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti is thrilled the company's recent rebrand has hit the mark in Australia.

"We believed that our new branding would mean that we can more clearly define what's on offer here. This award confirms for us that tourists are finding it easier to identify what we have here ≠ the geothermal valley, Maori cultural experience and the New Zealand Maori Arts And Crafts Institute."

Grand Pacific Tours product manager Renee Cooley was pleased to see Te Puia take out the best North Island attraction award.

"Te Puia has been an included attraction in Grand Pacific Tours core series itineraries for a number of seasons. Passengers thoroughly enjoy their time at Te Puia as it is an all inclusive visit featuring the geothermal mud pools that Rotorua is famous for in addition to a traditional hangi and concert of very high quality."

Grand Pacific Tours coaches are regular visitors to Te Puia, especially during the summer season.

Record numbers of Australians are holidaying in New Zealand. This year 870,000 tourists have visited. At least a million Australian visitors are expected to be travelling here within two years.

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