Rotorua iwi are hailing the third reading of a bill which would transfer Te Puia into iwi ownership as a historic moment signalling a "new era".
The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Vesting Bill would transfer ownership of Te Puia/ New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute will transfer to a new entity, the Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership.
Today is the bill's third reading will take place at Parliament.
This is usually a summing-up debate on a bill in its final form.
The vote at the end of the debate is the final vote in the House to either pass or reject the bill before a Royal assent to become law.
If passed, the partners in the limited partnership will be Wahiao Tūhourangi o Whakarewarewa, the hapū of Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu, Ngāti Kahu (to be held by their HTK Te Puia Trust) and the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust on behalf of Ngāti Whakaue.
The third reading of the bill follows lengthy negotiations.
Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust chairman Malcolm Short said he was delighted by today's milestone.
"The negotiations for the transfer over the last five years have been led by David Tapsell, one of our own trustees, who assisted the complex negotiation process to have this business returned to Māori ownership," Short said.
"Long term, Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership is committed to ensuring that the important pan-iwi cultural functions provided by the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in training the next generation of carvers, weavers and sculptors will continue."
Tapsell was excited about the institute's future.
"The Crown have funded the NZMACI for two years recognising the historic and national importance of the Māori Arts and Crafts schools," he said.
"This is a new era for Māori Tourism in Rotorua. The partnership will enable the partners to work closely together in these challenging times to build upon, enhance and increase the Māori owned and controlled tourism and cultural integrity footprint in Rotorua."
The partners will be represented on the Te Puia board by board members.
"The steady hands of the new board and experience of the senior leadership team will be critical in negotiating the current issues created by the coronavirus epidemic," Tapsell said.
"Te Puia has a strong balance sheet and well-established reputation in the market and is well-positioned to weather the current uncertainty."