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Poutini Ngāi Tahu And Wētā Workshop Fuse Culture And Technology For World-class Visitor Experience

Before the existence of highways and cars, an ancient pathway connected the West Coast of the South Island, made by pounamu traders and warriors moving up and down the coastline. This was a place of legends and historic battles, and it’s being brought back to life through the ancient stories of Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop’s cutting-edge technology.

The much-anticipated Pounamu Pathway is an immersive storytelling experience that will seamlessly weave together the rich tapestry of cultural natural heritage pūrākau across the West Coast of the South Island, Aotearoa.

Four interconnected experience centres — Māwhera (Greymouth), Awarua (Haast), Kawatiri (Westport) and Hokitika — will serve as gateways to captivating and emotive visitor experiences, attracting both local and domestic tourists to the region. The first experience centre located in Māwhera, is set to open December 2023.

The most ambitious of the centres, Māwhera, is a bespoke, architecturally designed building which takes visitors on an immersive journey through the stories of the people of Poutini Ngāi Tahu and the Māwhera Pā, on the very land where the Pā once stood. Construction of four ‘whare’ are currently underway, which are dedicated to stories of ancestors, settlements, battles and legends.

Ngāti Waewae Chair, Francois Tumahai had a vision to create an innovative experience that would bring unique historical pūrākau (stories) to life.

“The Pounamu Pathway in Māwhera, will showcase our stories of legends and atua, our tīpuna will be seen and heard in a way that has never been seen before. We want to connect visitors to our rich and vibrant stories, to our pūrakau. Our collaboration with Wētā Workshop is creating a groundbreaking experience we’ll all be really proud of,” says Francois.

Wētā Workshop’s creations are being described as a world first, creating a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with the legendary tīpuna of Ngāti Waewae; wahine toa Papakura, tohunga Moroiti, and their leader, Tūhuru the warrior chief.

“At Wētā Workshop, we are thrilled to be part of the extraordinary collaboration on the Pounamu Pathway project. This endeavour presents a unique opportunity to merge our passion for storytelling and expertise in crafting immersive experiences with the rich cultural heritage of the West Coast.” said Jason Aldous of Wētā Workshop.

The Pounamu Pathway is not limited to Māori culture alone; it seeks to embrace the rich tapestry of European heritage and other notable chapters in West Coast history. From gold mining to the coal trade, and the legendary pounamu (greenstone) industry, the Pounamu Pathway brings these stories to life. It underscores the profound impact these trades have had on the West Coast, making it the vibrant and diverse region we know today.

© Scoop Media

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