Pounamu Pathway’s second ‘experience centre’ opens in Kawatiri

The second of the “experience centres” along the Pounamu Pathway has been unveiled in Kawatiri (Westport), following the opening of the first centre in Māwhera (Greymouth) in December.

The Pounamu Pathway follows an ancient pathway made by pounamu traders and warriors along the West Coast of the South Island that is being brought back to life through a collaboration between Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop utilising immersive storytelling.

The Museum of Kawatiri opened to the public in Kawatiri today, after the original Coaltown Museum underwent a “significant update”.

When complete, the pathway will consist of interconnected centres in Kawatiri (Westport) and Māwhera (Greymouth), as well as Hokitika and Awarua (Haast).

Toko Kapea, the chief executive of Te Ara Pounamu Ltd - the company of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae and Te Rūnanga o Maakawhio leading the project - told Te Ao Tapatahi last year that the cutting-edge initiative was “special” for Poutini Ngāi Tahu.

“It’s just so special that we’ve been able to weave Poutini Ngāi Tahu stories in a manner that brings this immersive way of using light, sound, visual display in a sort of modern way of telling Māori stories.”