Tauranga Moana will burst onto the cultural tourism scene this Saturday with the launch of Te Whānau Tāpoi Māori ō Tauranga Moana – an incorporated society currently representing 14 Māori tourism operators who will collectively promote stories of the region.
The official ceremony, to be held at Waikorire (Pilot Bay) at the base of Mauao, will mark the start of the society's intentions to establish a cultural tourism footprint in Tauranga.
Dignitaries such as Associate Minister of Tourism Peeni Henare, Tauranga kaumātua and Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne will speak to the society's importance at the launch, which will then be opened to the public to discover the new tourism experiences.
Spokesman Reon Tuanau said: "We've got experiences for anyone looking to learn more about Tauranga – via e-bike tour, stand-up paddleboard, healing retreat, Harley Davidson motorcycle and more!"
Tuanau said the society wanted to grow the offering, both in business numbers and public recognition of the undeniable reputation of Tauranga Moana as a culturally rich place of discovery.
"Te Whānau Tāpoi Māori ō Tauranga Moana is about restoring "mana tāpoi" for Tauranga Moana and establishing something authentic to us here," he said.
Henare said he supported the society's intentions to promote a cultural tourism offering in Tauranga.
"The kaupapa of Te Whānau Tāpoi Māori ō Tauranga Moana is exactly what Aotearoa and Tauranga needs to authentically welcome manuhiri mai tāwāhi (international visitors) back to our shores in the post-Covid-19 environment."
Dunne said the organisation decided to focus on cultural tourism development through a specific resource hired in October 2018 to build relationships with iwi and hapū.
"Tauranga Moana has all the makings for an authentic, intimate cultural tourism offering. We are proudly assisting iwi/hapū members to tell their stories on their terms."
Tuanau said: "we have the coast, the islands, Mauao, incredible legends of bravery shown in the Māori Land Wars, and a strong tangata whenua presence.
"Following thorough consultation, the collective has the blessing of kaumātua to share our stories with manuhiri.
"We warmly invite media to attend the event on Saturday to help us spread the message of our kaupapa."