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It was 1989, and Mike Tamaki had been looking everywhere for money to set up to what most onlookers, and bank managers, seemed a random and “sure-to-fail” business idea. He had been declined a bank loan from all lenders. After months without progress, Mike was still doggedly determined.
The answer lay with his brother, Doug’s shiny pride and joy – a Harley Davidson motorcycle. It took a while to wear down his brother’s resolve - but eventually Doug parted with the Harley. Next thing you know, the boys found themselves on the way back from Auckland in a not-so-shiny (and kind of empty!) 16-seater Japanese minibus. Empty as it had only the one seat. Thankfully Mike saw the value in letting his brother, recently bereft of his Harley, drive home. And all the way home, they nutted-out the plan. History was in motion.
The concept saw the brothers and their families create a whole new encounter with Maori culture outside of the hotel environment. They set about creating - from scratch - a pre-European Maori village, 15 minutes south of Rotorua. Many said they shouldn't, couldn’t or wouldn't pull it off. The distance from hotels was seen as a deterrent, the forest setting wouldn't happen, the in-ground, real hangi approach (as opposed to the shortcut versions being offered at the time) seemed labour intensive and too difficult. The Tamaki brothers turned all of these negatives into positives.
To this day, Tamaki Maori Village remains one of the most significant suppliers for cultural tourism experiences within Rotorua. The company employs more than 80 local people and has contributed significantly to the local community and economy over the past 25 years.
Tamaki Maori Village remains the only indigenous tourism company in New Zealand to win the jewel in the tourism crown, The Supreme Tourism award. The company has also won the Ernst and Young – Entrepreneur of the Year Award as well as a plethora of regional culture and heritage awards, including the Golden Backpack award for the best Cultural Experience throughout Australasia 2010-2013.
In short, Tamaki Maori Village is New Zealand’s most awarded Cultural Tourism experience.
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