Te Puia is a taonga for all - Eraia Keil

By Te Ao - Māori News

Te Puia, the NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, has been transferred to Te Arawa hands.

Te Arawa receives the centre as part of its Treaty settlement process.

General manager Eraia Keil says Te Puia came as a result of reversing the 1908 Tohunga Suppression Act, which made traditional tohunga (experts) illegal. 

The 1908 Tohunga Suppression Act made all tohunga illegal. This meant all Māori experts such as healers, carvers, tattooists, carvers and priests were made illegal. This meant an entire generation of Māori missed the opportunity to learn the knowledge of their ancestors. Te Puia trains carvers and tattooists and was established to reverse the knowledge gap created by this ban.

"It's been a long journey," Kell says. "We've achieved the wishes of our ancestors."

Te Arawa recently released its long-term plans, in which the iwi confederation said it aimed to be the primary employer for its people. Owning one of the primary Māori tourism institutions puts Te Arawa in a position to do so.

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