National | Glowworms

New exhibition celebrates Waitomo Glowworm Caves' first explorer

A Maniapoto ancestor, noted as one of the pioneering explorers of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, is finally being celebrated by the operators of the Waikato tourism enterprise, which has become one of New Zealand's best-known natural attractions.

Tāne Tinorau, who explored the caves in 1887 is being celebrated in a new visitor experience that showcases artworks by his descendants in a new exhibition, Hei Oranga Titiwai.

Waitomo Caves staff bore the brunt of job losses post Covid-19 last year when Tourism Holdings axed 140 staff in May. As the company battles to shake off its continuing tourist deficit, Discover Waitomo general manager Tim Loxton says the new exhibition is a great opportunity to provide a richer visitor experience. He's working alongside the artists, including Moera Anderson, who is a proud descendant of the first explorer.

Moera Anderson says, "Tāne Tinorau, alongside a lot of our other tīpuna, they ran the first tours here in 1889, and I guess for us as guides who also work here, plus as artists within Waitomo, it's a great opportunity to showcase our tīpuna, Tāne Tinorau."