Pounamu Pathway to lead West Coast culture and heritage future

An exciting new strategic view has been identified to lead the way for the future of culture and heritage development for the West Coast.

The West Coast is rich in its natural, built and cultural heritage. To date there has been a real focus on telling the stories about gold, coal and forestry in many locations throughout the region. A number of applications have been made to the Provincial Growth Fund to build on these West Coast stories.

However, research conducted by Tourism West Coast during the development of the Tourism Marketing Strategy, indicated that more than 70% of visitors wanted to find out more about the Māori story for Tai Poutini West Coast.

In addition to this, feedback received to date from the Provincial Development Unit, the investment body of Minister Shane Jones’ $3 billion fund, emphasised the requirement for the West Coast to present applications that are Regional and will bring Regional Economic benefit rather than present applications for individual Districts. This has resulted in applications relating to the development, redevelopment or extension of museum, cultural or heritage experiences being put on hold whilst the Region make decisions on the way forward.

A workshop of 36 participants from Iwi, Councils, Development West Coast, museum, heritage and cultural experiences met on 21 January to determine how to bring these initiatives together, linking the cultural and heritage stories across the region.

Francois Tumahai, Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, said that the history of Maori across the West Coast had been missing from many of the stories of the region, and central to that story was pounamu.

“The workshop attendees felt a real resonance with the Pounamu Pathway concept, recognising the untapped value in this narrative.”

“This is not about throwing the baby out with the bathwater though,” Mr Tumahai pointed out. “The Pounamu Pathway will provide the overarching strategy to link together all of our Tai Poutini West Coast stories and present the collective regional direction for culture and heritage required for investment.”

Pounamu is unique to the West Coast and a key point of difference for the region when exploring Maori history.

“If we can encourage tourists to stay an extra night, or two, as they follow the Pathway, exploring the Maori stories from the first landings, to land battles, trade of pounamu, the discovery of gold, and how these then intertwine with our European settlement past, then this will provide the opportunity to generate significant additional spend throughout our region.”

(22 January 2019)