Waiata and haka rang out from the public gallery at Parliament tonight after a "very significant milestone moment" for Te Arawa leaders.
The bill restoring Māori ownership of one of Rotorua's most popular tourism assets passed its final stage.
The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute was first established in 1926 with specialised education schools dedicated to Māori arts and crafts.
The institute was officially combined with Te Whakarewarewa Valley's tourism interests, Te Puia, in 1963 under Government legislation.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic about 500,000 people a year were visiting the attraction.
The purpose of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Vesting Bill is to hand ownership of the business and training organisation from the Crown to the Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership.
The partnership is made up of the separate entities the Wāhiao Tūhourangi o Whakarewarewa Trust (50 per cent), the Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust (25 per cent) and Ngāti Hurungaterangi, Ngāti Taeotu and Ngāti Kahu's HTK Te Puia Trust (25 per cent).
This afternoon the bill passed its final vote unanimously after a summing-up debate by MPs and will now require a final royal assent before becoming law.
Today'smilestone fulfils a vesting agreement signed in 2017 under former Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell.
Earlier that year in a postal vote a large majority of iwi members voted in favour of Te Puia being vested in the new entity, the Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership.
The land the tourism operation sits on was returned to the Whakarewarewa Joint Trust in 2009.
This evening, the bill was supported by MPs across the House, in the Government and the Opposition.
Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the third reading was a "very significant milestone moment".
"[This is] our opportunity to rectify something that should have been done a long time ago."
She said there were "so many people to acknowledge that are no longer with us" and "tireless" work had gone into the bill and negotiations before that.
Mahuta said she had "every confidence" in the partnership which would now be the "kaitiaki of this national treasure".
Rotorua-based list MP and New Zealand First deputy leader Fletcher Tabuteau said despite the heartbreak of the Covid-19 downturn and job cuts "it is the best time for Parliament to be handing back this institution, this taonga".
"If there was an icon that we could all agree on ... It is Te Puia, it is more than the sum of its parts, it is about our Māori culture, it is about our heritage, it is about our learnings, it is about the future of the reo and our people."
National Party list MP Joanne Hayes said it was an "amazing day" when the Māori affairs select committee heard submissions about the bill and it was the longest day of submissions she had ever sat through as an MP.
She said visitors at Te Puia "stand absolutely in awe and wonder".
Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson had "proud support" for the bill.
She said it showed "the importance of doing what is right" after colonisation in New Zealand.
Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey made the final speech and dedicated it to Te Arawa tourism guides.
He thanked iwi leaders for their patience around the bill.
"It's taken a little while but good things take time."
He also acknowledged whānau "who continue to do the hard yards" working in tourism through Covid-19.
Pukeroa Oruawhata Trust chairman Malcolm Short was among the iwi leaders who travelled to Wellington for the third reading and was delighted by the result at Parliament.
"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."
He said the Te Puia NZMACI Limited Partnership was "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 said the bill's passing marked "a new era for Māori tourism in Rotorua" and would "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".
"Te Puia has a strong balance sheet and well-established reputation in the market."
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said it was "fantastic" the day for bill's final reading had arrived.
"It's beautiful timing, right after the launch of the Te Arawa 2050 vision."
The chief executive of the institute and Te Puia, Tim Cossar, said while the ownership changes were significant, it would be business as usual for trade partners and manuhiri [visitors] coming through the gates.
"We are drawing on our tourism foundations which date back to the Pink and White Terraces, our cultural mandate which was first developed by Sir Āpirana Ngata in the 1920s, and our core philosophy of manaakitanga [hospitality]."
The institute was granted a $7.6 million cash injection over two years from Government in May, as part of the Government's Budget package that allocated $900m to support Māori.
Te Puia was forced to shut its doors on March 21 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
It reopened at the start of this month with a downsized team of around 50 people after some staff lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 downturn.