The new Museum of Waitangi, opened today by the Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, is set to become a national icon and a site of great significance for Māoridom.
“This museum will be one of Northland’s major visitor attractions, and on a national scale it will be one of New Zealand’s most important cultural and heritage tourism magnets,” says Northland Inc CEO David Wilson.
Formally named ‘Te Kōngahu’ -- a Ngapuhi word referring to the unborn child, a metaphor for the potential and promise of a new nation that was conceived and born at Waitangi in the 19th Century.
“We expect the new Museum will boost year-round domestic tourism to Northland by appealing to Kiwis who want to know more about the stories surrounding our country’s founding document – The Treaty of Waitangi – and will interest international visitors who want a more in-depth understanding of New Zealand and its history.
“We foresee the Museum luring greater numbers of visitors year-round, especially adding to the reasons to visit Northland at any time of the year”.
He says the integrated visitor experience at Waitangi now offers a world class interpretive experience at the Museum which tells the story of the ‘Treaty’ at a stunning location on the extensive grounds overlooking the Bay of Islands.
The Treaty Grounds provide access to the Treaty House and 1940 commemorative national Wharenui which is the carved meeting house titled ‘Te Whare Rūnanga’ (the House of Assembly)
The Grounds are also home to one of New Zealand’s best Māori cultural concerts and kapa haka displays as well as an evening hangi, a café and short bush walks.
Waitangi is recognised as the nation’s birthplace and of huge interest to many visitors and the wider experience the Waitangi National Trust have created with the new Museum and additional experiences on site means Northland now boasts one of New Zealand’s most compelling cultural visitor attractions.
Mr Wilson says it is significant that the Museum was opened in the same week that Northland’s new Economic Action Plan has been launched.
“The Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan contains 58 projects designed to boost Northland’s economy, and many of those projects are tourism-related” he adds.
“We need major investment in tourism infrastructure and product development to change the current Northland visitor proposition and seasonality visitation pattern. This major investment by government and the Waitangi National Trust in the new Museum shows confidence in Northland’s tourism future.
“Additionally, the announcement this week of a $4 million investment by government in the Whangarei Hundertwasser Wairau Māori Art Centre (HAC) emphasises the change happening here in this region”.
Mr Wilson says Northland’s tourism sector is a major player in the region’s economy that is moving ahead with renewed confidence and a strong focus on spreading year-round demand for a wide range of experiences across Northland.
Northland Inc’s Māori Economic Development General Manager George Riley says he hopes the new Museum serves the purpose of becoming an iconic inspiration that will grow confidence in Northland’s Māori economic ambitions.
“This is another step in the right direction for Northland Māori to leverage off the Northland Economic Action Plan announced this week, “Mr Riley says.
“It will help motivate Māori to become involved in growing the Māori economy so we’d like to congratulate the Te Kōngahu’ CEO Greg McManus and his team for the fine work they have done on the Museum.”
The Museum was officially opened today, closed for Waitangi Day, and will be open to the public permanently from Sunday 7 February.