Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours has won the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards' Community Engagement Award.

Travellers are taken to Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours on the outskirts of Murupara via tour bus business Stray to participate in a cultural experience.

This joint venture between the two businesses sees tourism bring otherwise lacking economic and social activity into Murupara while also providing an insight into modern-day Māori culture for international visitors.

Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours Director Nadine ToeToe said: "We are so proud to have won the Community Engagement Award."

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"We started Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours to support our community and provide our manuhiri (guests) with an authentic experience that shares with them our history, but also the realities we face as a people. We wanted to show them the positive footprint visitors could leave behind in communities like ours."

Murupara is one of New Zealand's most impoverished townships with significant economic and social challenges.

Tourism Bay of Plenty Chief Executive Kristin Dunne said that the town is not a popular visitor destination.

"Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours is the kind of tourism that changes lives, both for our communities and for our manuhiri. Nadine and her team are an exemplar of regenerative tourism where tourism has been used as a force for good."

The Lodge was part of the recent National Geographic Photo Camp in partnership with National Geographic Society and Air New Zealand. The camps were developed for National Geographic photographers to teach photography to at-risk and refugee youth in impoverished communities.

Kohutapu Lodge and Tribal Tours is owned and operated by a family of Ngāti Manawa descent. The family share legends, stories, cultural knowledge and traditional food with their guests.