Maori Culture Cruise directors Wayne Perkins (second from left) and Warren Skerrett, with guides Joe Cowie and Liz Davis. Photo supplied.
More than 500 years of early Wakatipu Maori history is
brought to life in a new tourism venture devised by
Billed as the first of its kind in southern New Zealand,
Maori Culture Cruises is a joint venture between financial
planner Warren Skerrett, wife Alyssandra and Million Dollar
Cruise owners Wayne and Betty Perkins.
The 75-minute choreographed cultural experience is a journey
back in time, experiencing largely unknown sites of Maori
cultural significance and the legends of landmarks around the
Passengers are ''called'' on board the southern
Mississippi-style river boat Ngaroto, formerly named
Million Dollar 1, using a conch shell in a formal mihi
whakatau, or welcome.
They are then fully immersed in a journey back in time led by
Queenstown guides of Ngai Tahu descent Liz Davis and Joe
Cowie, wearing full traditional costume, featuring korowai,
piupiu and heitiki.
Captain Perkins dresses in European period costume, sporting
a Napoleonic musket and an axe.
The concept has the full backing of Kai Tahu, the southern
collective of Ngai Tahu.
''Few people know why Maori came here, why they lived here
and why they left,'' Southern kaumatua Michael Skerrett said.
''This is not a poi or kapa haka show.
''My biggest underlying desire is to ensure there is some
true Ngai Tahu representation in Queenstown, this country's
greatest gateway for international visitors.''
Cultural adviser Sir Tipene O'Regan said more overseas
visitors wanted to discover and experience the heritage of
the places they visited.
''It's always been a trend that's been ignored by New Zealand
tourism. Queenstown and the Wakatipu area are not just for
exercising adrenaline,'' Sir Tipene said.
''This trip is directly related to the traditions and history
of the place, whereas most tourism activities tend to be
generic and tell a macro-ethnic story.
''People will be attracted to this, because it's different
from the recognised elements and rituals of encounter that
all New Zealanders take.
''This content is an essential, component of the New Zealand
brand. Even Kiwis are starting to be drawn to it now.''