Tamaki Heritage Experiences is refusing to say how much of a financial hit it took with the closure of its Christchurch Maori village.
Two gateways and a bridge are all that's left of the Tamakis' first foray into the South Island tourism market. The heritage village, opened in 2007 amid much fanfare after a multi-million makeover of a former dump site beside the Ferrymead Heritage Park, now looks more like an abandoned wasteland.
Co-owner Doug Tamaki confirmed that several larger buildings had been dismantled and transported back to the company's Rotorua base, while huts and fencing from the replica Pa were sold to the Ko Tane Living Maori Village at Christchurch's Willowbank Wildlife Park.
Tamaki says they have negotiated an end to their occupancy agreement with the Christchurch City Council and he understands other commercial enterprises are interested in using the site.
The Maori village was initially claimed to cost $6 million, a figure Tamaki says was based on developing the park with a partner. Tamaki Heritage Experiences ended up going it alone but he wouldn't reveal the final cost of the venture which at its peak employed about 60 people.
As well as the working Maori village the three hour Lost in Our Own Land cultural experience included an audio visual presentation, a battle re-enactment, and a tram ride through Ferrymead's historic European township.
Tamaki said the "heart-breaking" closure was forced on them by the negative impact of the earthquakes and the recession on the region's tourism industry.
"After the February earthquake we had all our wholesalers cancelling and they said they wouldn't be coming through for the next two or three years and that's something we just couldn't sustain."
However Ferrymead Heritage Park manager Newton Dodge says activity at the Maori village had tailed off well before any earthquakes and Tamaki's payment for use of park facilities had not proved the financial bonanza for Ferrymead that some had predicted.
"It was nice to have had some income while they were there, but it's not something I'd write home about and as a percentage of our turn over it would have been eight to 10 per cent."
Tamaki denies the Christchurch operation was struggling pre-quakes. "We knew we'd have to work hard in the first five years to establish ourselves and get a good reputation within the South Island as we have nationwide.... It has been quite hard, the Rotorua business was supporting both and that's not what it was supposed to do. "
He says his company might look at re-entering the Christchurch market at some stage if visitor numbers pick up. "Further down the track once the city is back on its feet and is showing growth it will be an exciting place to be and we wouldn't rule out going back."
Although the closure has left Ko Tane village without a competitor, co-owner Dave Brennan is still sorry to see the Tamakis leave the city.
"It was good having them here too because it put more cultural awareness on Christchurch. With Tamaki coming to town it made us a serious cultural destination and with a small market it was a real lighthouse."
Brennan says the buildings from Tamaki would allow Ko Tane to triple the size of its Maori village but future developments depend on better tourist numbers.
"We've just had the shortest season I can think of. It was all over by the end of February instead of winding down towards the end of April. The wholesalers are directing traffic away from here."
* This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the Tamakis had negotiated an end to their occupancy agreement, not a lease, on the Christchurch City Council owned land.