This Herald Travel series focuses on Māori tourism businesses around the country, showcasing who they are, what they do, and what they have to offer Kiwi travellers.
Max Lloyd (Ngāti Kaharau, Ngāti Pou, Ngapuhi): Manea Footprints of Kupe and Footprints WaipouaHokianga
Why should Kiwis choose to do one of your tours?
Kupe, the original discoverer of Aotearoa, features in tribal traditions across Aotearoa, New Zealand. The name Aotearoa itself is said to originate from the land's first sighting by the great voyager's wife. Through Manea you get to listen, see, smell, and feel the story of Kupe as told by his descendants. So, to learn his reasons for leaving to find new land, his epic journey across the Pacific Ocean to reach Aotearoa, settling in Hokianga and then passing on his knowledge to his grandson Nukutawhiti to lead a migration of Māori to Aotearoa is something every Kiwi should know. How do you really understand Aotearoa if you are not aware of its beginnings?
With Footprints Waipoua, guests can learn about the important role that trees play in the unique ecosystem that is the Waipoua Forest.
As you stand in front of Tāne Mahuta and listen to our creation story, let our guides sing waiata and explain the human connection with our living and breathing kauri trees. It is a spiritual encounter and one that will help you understand our unique connection with nature.
What can they expect on both tours/experiences?
At Manea Footprints of Kupe, on arrival to our whare Ngā Tapuwae o Kupe, our people welcome you with the timeless cultural ceremony of mihi whakatau. You then enter our theatre, where a 20-minute 4D-digital extravaganza and live performance immerses you in a full sensory recreation of the rich and vibrant world of the intrepid adventures of Kupe.
From the theatre, your guide will lead you outside to absorb the full significance of the Hokianga harbour and our story.
In our interactive gallery, digital stations reveal more details of our ancestor's story.
With Footprints Waipoua, the Twilight Encounter is our most popular tour. Setting out from Hokianga by coach, your Māori guide will brief you on the protocols for your visit to the mighty Waipoua Forest. Stepping into our special world you will be walking under the same stars that guided our ancestor Kupe to Aotearoa.
On the paths of the forest, we meet the two largest kauri trees in Aotearoa, Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the forest), approximately 3000 years old and Tāne Mahuta (God of the Forest), approximately 2000 years old. These are not buildings, monuments, or relics - they are living and breathing products of Mother Nature. They have stood the test of time and are still producing life today. Listen to our creation story under Tāne Mahuta and learn the vital role he played in it.
Before the end of the encounter, we hold karakia (prayer) and a moment's silence to remember loved ones both past and present, leaving you to find peace and strengthen your own connection with nature.
How do the experiences celebrate te ao Māori?
Manea Footprints of Kupe is a dream realised, an authentic Te Ao Maori showcase, a multi-faceted feast of Māori culture woven together through an innovative and exciting visit experience like no other. Manea celebrates our rich Māori heritage, giving validation to the knowledge and unprecedented feats of our ancestors. We are the proud descendants of an ancient culture, a highly skilled intelligent race of people in tune with the elements.
Footprints Waipoua twilight tour is a unique evening experience, a Māori cultural guided hikoi (walk) through the majestic Waipoua Forest. Nature imbued with culture. Sharing an authentic Māori Cultural narrative of the last of our ancient forests, and its people. A celebration of our nature and our culture.
What do you love most about your job?
I was born and raised in Hokianga, however I have learnt more about where I am from and who I am in the past six months since Manea opened, than I have in the past 30 years. I get to learn every day, immerse myself in our culture, contribute to our community and promote an organisation and region that is very dear to my heart.
I also have the opportunity to go on our tours and enter the Waipoua Forest with our guides. Being in there is like a form of meditation. Cell phone coverage disappears as you enter the forest and so do your problems. What was racing on your mind completely disappears and you are at peace and in tune with nature. A weight is lifted off the shoulders.