Hamilton mayor backs permanent Māori tourism initiative at gardens

By Taroi Black

Hamilton mayor Andrew King is backing a permanent fixture for the Haka Māori Cultural Experience, a tourism initiative currently hosted annually at the Hamilton Gardens. 

“This is Tainui land, the indigenous owners of this land are Tainui.  There is only one iwi here that has underlying traditional ownership of this land, traditional iwi rights to this land and that is hugely important that we work hand in hand with Tainui on this,” says King.

76% of tourists who come through Hamilton are from overseas.

Organiser Leanne Muntz says, “We want to be able to anchor visitation in Hamilton to support the region, to support Māori operators, other operators.”

Haka Māori Cultural Experience showcases traditional weaving, carving, tattooing and most importantly an experience on traditional canoes on the mighty Waikato River.

The region's major tourist attraction is the Waitomo Caves.  However, King is determined to create more business opportunities for Tainui.

“That's what needs to underpin it.  It needs to open up to create jobs, to create prosperity not only for our region but also for our iwi,” says King.

Organisers from Haka will present the initiative to the local government in the hope of making the venture permanent.