Indigenous | Tourism

Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop bring ancient West Coast pathway ‘back to life’

An ancient pathway made by pounamu traders and warriors moving up and down the West Coast of the South Island is being brought back to life ‘immersively’ through a cutting-edge collaboration between Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop.

A tourism initiative celebrating the region’s cultural, historical and natural heritage, Pounamu Pathway is an immersive storytelling experience delivered through four interconnected “experience centres” in Māwhera (Greymouth), Awarua (Haast), Kawatiri (Westport) and Hokitika.

Poutini Ngāi Tahu, the people of the West Coast region - specifically the hapū of Ngāti Waewae and Makaawhio - who are spearheading the venture say they are “proud to share with the world through the Pounamu Pathway”.

Māwhera, which opens in December, is the most ambitious of the centres.

“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,” Ngāti Waewae chair Francois Tumahai said Wednesday.

“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.”

World-first “once-in-a-lifetime” encounters have been created with legendary Ngāti Waewae tīpuna, Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop said including 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,” the special effects company’s Jason Aldous said.

“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.”