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Regional

‘The future’: Pounamu Pathway reflects desire to renew whole of Tai Poutini - Shane Jones

Poutini Ngāi Tahu’s Pounamu Pathway was officially opened by regional development minister Shane Jones on the West Coast on Friday.

The collaboration between Tai Poutini hapū Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio together with Wētā Workshop has seen a network of immersive experience centres breathe new life into the ancient pathway made by pounamu traders and toa moving along the coast.

“We’ve always known - irrespective of what iwi you come from - there’s a rich tradition associated with the pounamu. And it’s a taonga or manatunga that’s highly sought after by all of our tribes,” Jones told the Pounamu Pathway media team yesterday.

“And because it had the blessing and the legitimacy of the hau kāinga, I knew there would be no drama with Māori politics. But, more importantly, it was going to renew the whole region. And the leadership came from the rohe, as opposed [to] from Wellington.”

Jones said the Tai Poutini initiative represents the future.

“It represents a new feature, an additional item on the visitor menu, on the tourism menu. It treats with sensitivity - and a great deal of class actually - the local Māori history. But where that history sits in the broader spectrum of things people can do, visit and experience when they’re in Te Waipounamu.

“And really that’s the future. It’s integrated with a desire to renew the whole of the rohe, the whole of Tai Poutini.”

Two of the four experience centres are already open - in Māwhera (Greymouth) and Kawatiri (Westport) - with further centres planned for Awarua (Haast) and Hokitika.

“Regard the pounamu experience as a bedrock - as a platform or a foundation - and other poupou, other poles, will be erected around it, but it’s solid.

“After all, we’re talking about an ancient mineral that represents the bedrock of this part of Te Poutini. What better platform to build on can you think of?” said Jones.