Winners of both the Māori Tourism Award and Resilience & Innovation Award at the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2023.

Between the earth and the skies, a fateful love story gave birth to the world we know today. In traditional Māori view, the origin of our world begins with the primal couple, Ranginui, Father Sky and Papatūānuku, Mother Earth. With a love so fierce they could not be apart, they held each other together in a loving brace.


Ranginui and Papatūānuku were blessed with six male children, all of whom lived in the small confined space between them, cramped in darkness. Each time their parents moved, a ray of light came through, but the darkness always returned. And as the children grew, so did their desire to live in the light and seek an open world.

So the children gathered and decided they needed to find a way to separate their parents. Attempt after attempt was made to separate Father Sky and Mother Earth until one day, the mighty Tāne Mahuta, god of forests and birds, laid down on his back, pressed hard against his mother, pushed his feet up in the air against his father and tore them apart.

Tawa forest

When you arrive at Te Pā Tu and enter inside our beloved forest Tawa-ngāhere-pā, you will see the landscape around you and witness for yourself that it is only the trees that separate the earth and the sky.

Beneath a canopy of trees, gaze above at its branches reaching for the skies with its roots planted firmly into the earth. This is the natural world that Tāne created before you – this is our gathering place.

The strength and will of Tāne created the natural world – our forests and mountains, the oceans and the seas, all of this before mankind. His descendent, Māui Tikitiki obtained fire for humanity, slowed the sun, and fished up land from the ocean. Maui’s fish is the North Island, Te Ika a Māui, and his canoe is the South Island, Te Waka a Māui.

And it is in this life force, this abundant nature, that everything is linked together. It is through the natural world that the link between man and ancestors remains.

Today, Tawa-ngāhere-pā, our ancient native forest and village home is a sacred gathering place for our people. It is also rich in fauna and a great source of healing. This is where you can discover many aspects of traditional Māori way of life.

For Māori people, the land is an eternal source of spirituality, a connection to everything – a tie that binds us all. So next time you see someone here in the Land of the Long White Cloud going about life in bare feet you will know the reason why.

Welcome, Haere mai!