A "pantomime Pōwhiri' that sent shock waves throughout Tauranga last month has helped start the conversation around cultural tourism in the city.

A boat of cruise ship guests was welcomed to the Port of Tauranga last month with a mock pōwhiri put on by Princess Cruise staff.

The situation caused outrage among city and iwi leaders at the time with one coining it as "blatant racism".

A month on, Tourism Bay of Plenty's Māori tourism product development manager Simon Phillips said the "unsavoury" act was highlighted for the much-needed "nudge" it gave the city's cultural tourism opportunities.


Phillips said Tourism BOP had been looking into ways to rejuvenate the city's cultural tourism for more than a year and the incident had been "timely" for this cause.

The "galvanising" effect of the act had been immensely helpful in getting the community behind the push for these opportunities in the city, he said.

Tourism BOP had been working closely with iwi and hapū to engage and upskill existing operators, as well as creating space for more.

Fifteen new cultural tourism enterprises were now on the table, with Phillips aiming to have all of them established and up and running by the next cruise ship season.

Some of these included a cultural hikoi for Mount Maunganui and Mauao, which had "so many stories to tell", he said.

Another included Mo's Matakana Island tour, which would explore the historical importance of the island and an Omokoroa e-bike tour of the heritage trail.

Phillips said it was important to give cruise ship passengers the option for where they can get their "cultural fix".

A large portion of passengers currently chose to pop "over the hill" to Rotorua for this and it was time this changed, he said.