Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Valley continues to tell the stories of many generations, with 23-year-old Tiaana Anaru among the latest of her whānau to join Te Puia.

A descendant of Tūhourangi, Anaru started her role as marketing co-ordinator after an onsite internship during her Bachelor of Management Studies at the University of Waikato.

Anaru said after her internship she saw Te Puia as a good stepping stone for her career goals and realised she didn't want to leave.

"I didn't realise how big Te Puia was within marketing. Internationally they are one of the best competitors within New Zealand.

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"I always thought I would be starting my career elsewhere. But as it turns out, Te Puia has been the perfect leg up into my industry."

This is Anaru's first job out of university who originally did not see herself coming back to Rotorua so quickly.

Born and bred locally, she wanted to go out and experience the world before returning home.

Now after working at Te Puia she said it would be hard to leave.

"Coming home has been quite special.

"Working at Te Puia has made me appreciate where I come from because I am actually from the village. That's big for me."

Tiaana Anaru is working as the marketing co-ordinator at Te Puia. Photo / Supplied
Tiaana Anaru is working as the marketing co-ordinator at Te Puia. Photo / Supplied

Anaru said when she planned to be at Te Puia for no more than five years when she first started. But connecting with her whakapapa has impacted her more than she anticipated.

"Before I came to Te Puia I didn't really recognise te ao Māori.

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"When I came back here and started working at Te Puia, te ao Māori has now become my life pretty much."

Tiaana joins her mother, Karla Watson, who has been performing in Te Puia's concerts for five years.

But her whakapapa runs deep into Te Puia's history tracing back to her great great great grandfather, Heretaunga Remehio Rotohiko.

Both Heretaunga and his son, Mikaere Heretaunga, didn't work at Te Puia as it wasn't created, but both men proudly promoted Te Whakarewarewa Valley.

"Te Puia wasn't established when he [Mikaere] was alive but there were guides in the Whakarewarewa Village that were guiding tourists through the village.

"A couple of years after he died, Te Puia was established."

Anaru said the first person to connect her to Te Puia was her great grandmother, Haana Denny Anaru, who guided the manuhiri (visitors) around the valley, a skill she learnt from her father, Mikaere.

"My great grandmother trained many of Te Puia's guides, some of whom are still here today, which is a special legacy to have left behind.

"I look up to all my descendants who call this beautiful place home."

Anaru's also follows in the footsteps of her nana, Raewyn Anaru, who also worked at Te Puia in the gift shop.

Anaru's role in the marketing team ranges from hosting media, to managing Te Puia's online social media platforms and websites.

"I still can't believe this is my first job out of university. The marketing team is involved in a massive number of exciting projects and I have to continuously pinch myself that I'm an integral part of it all."