It's truly the trip of a lifetime for a lucky group of Rotorua High School students, who are off to Japan to showcase their Māori culture as part of the Tuku Iho exhibition.

"Tuku Iho has been operating in many countries," said Jamus Webster, Māori Performing Arts Academy director.

"It's an exhibition, engaging with people of certain countries, so it's been to Brazil, Argentina, Washington DC, Los Angeles.

"Our primary focus is to showcase and engage with the Japanese people and tell them about our culture, and to share and collaborate in the similarities and values and customs and traditions. And we're exposing the finest of our artwork and Māori artefacts."

And, somewhat fortuitously the visit to Japan coincides with the build-up to a certain major sporting event.


"At the same time we'll be doing some Rugby World Cup activations over there. We're going there to open up the Webb Ellis Cup. I don't know if it's the right word to say 'open' but it's at this event where it lands in Tokyo."

Students were chosen for the trip based on a number of criteria.

"They're selected in regards to their commitment and attendance at school, their involvement within various areas of the school whether it be cultural, academic, citizenship," Webster said.

Student Manukau Whata is looking forward most of all to the hospitality and food.

"Ramen, ramen all the way, ramen all the way," he said.

Atera Apirana can't wait to experience another aspect of the culture.

"What I'm looking forward to the most is obviously the shopping [laughs] but just experiencing another country, getting to meet a whole new group of people. I'm just excited for whatever's about to come."

Despite all the jet-setting, school work remains the number one priority.


"We've arranged with our teachers, things we can do while we're over in Japan. I think for the majority of us we're going to be tracking along, sharing our stuff with our teachers so that they know we're keeping on track with our work," Apirana says.

Webster summed up the benefits to the young people.

"[It's] a way to help provide an experience... to experience the world but also appreciate who and what their identity is."

Made with funding from