"We're back!"

With those words Rotorua's Te Puia reopened this morning, according to a social media post urging the public to return to the famous tourism hotspot.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the business to close its doors on March 21 and lay off 140 staff members.

It opened its doors at 10am.


Te Puia, which incorporates the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, is made up of a tourism attraction showcasing Māori culture and geothermal attractions as well as the institute side of the business that runs a Māori arts and crafts school.

During the lockdown, it retained 30 staff, including 23 for Te Puia and seven from the institute.

The reopening has seen a few changes to the attraction including a price drop, a reinvention of the experience to appeal to a domestic market as well as employing 14 extra staff members - taking the site's total staff to 44.

It will also only open four days a week for reduced hours.

On May 18, the Government announced a cash injection of $7.6 million which was tagged to the institute side of the business to ensure the future fostering of Māori arts and crafts.

Chief executive Tim Cossar said the business, which had been 93 per cent reliant on international visitors, would go from an annual turnover of up to $25 million ''to lucky to make $2 million by the end of this financial year".

"International visitors were our lifeline. That was the tap and the tap turned off but we have developed something that I think people will really like. If we are humble with our storytelling with a bit of humour, I think Kiwis will love it."

What's different at Te Puia?
* The price has dropped to $30 for adults and free for two children aged 15 and under with every paying adult. Extra children are $10.
* Te Puia will open Thursday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.
* Pātaka Kai restaurant will open Friday and Saturday nights with a new "grazing" menu.
* Instead of traditional hāngī and concert offerings there will be two guided tours throughout the day offering more domestic-friendly story-telling.
* Customers don't have to pay an entry fee to go to the restaurant, bar and cafe.