Maori performing arts in demand on global stages

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

New Zealand Māori Tourism is calling for more funding for Māori performing arts. Chairperson Dale Stephens says there's a global demand for Māori performances who are bringing more tourists to New Zealand.

Maori Performing Arts is in demand and taking the world by storm, but how is it helping the tourism industry here in New Zealand? According to New Zealand Māori Tourism, it's leading the way.

Stephens says “Tourism has moved on from taking a photo of a big high-rise tower and going to a concert. It’s actually about experiences now, and cultural experience is a big part of tourism and Maori make that happen for us here in New Zealand.”

Folk festivals around the world have been requesting the attendance of Māori performing arts on their stages for years, with some festivals being attended by more than 20,000 people. Kahurangi Milne who is currently with a group performing at Korea's Mud Festival says people are very intrigued with Māori.

Milne says, “I'm seeing that people want to come to New Zealand, firstly because of the landscape and the culture, and to also see some of the things that we have going on.”

Stephens says, “The warmth that Māori bring and the engaging, it’s not so much what they do on stage which is outstanding, it’s when they get down off the stage and involve themselves with these other cultures and other people especially in countries who live their culture. They see another culture and they empathise with that culture, and they come to New Zealand.”

Stephens says there are opportunities for New Zealand to use these experiences to promote tourism but more funding is needed.

He adds “The general perception in New Zealand is moving towards the understanding that it’s actually the people and the effort of our people offshore that bring the opportunities back to New Zealand. So I think you'll find that the funding which is an issue now over time will get better and better as that realisation comes through.”

Milne says “People from places like Korea, China and a lot of other people like New Zealand because they're seeing the energy and the essence of the people of the country.”

Stephens hopes more funding for these opportunities will be more available soon