'A lot of emotion': Pounamu Pathway opens on West Coast

A new world-class tourist attraction created by Poutini Ngāi Tahu and Wētā Workshop has been unveiled in Greymouth.
09 December 2023

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The immersive Pounamu Pathway takes people on a journey back through 1000 years of history on the rugged West Coast of the South Island.

The $34 million attraction is the first of four Māori-led West Coast museums that will tell the stories of Poutini Ngāi Tahu.

Pounamu Pathway director Francois Tumahai said it's important to put Māori storytelling at the heart of the project.

"It came down to basically ponamu... it's only here and nowhere else and of course our tūpuna traipsed all over the Tai Potami searching and trading ponamu," he said.

Tumahai admitted he was "a bit nervous" for the reactions of the whānau during the pathway's dawn blessing ceremony a few weeks ago.

"There were quite a few tears, a lot of emotion and basically they were really gob-smacked," he said.

Wētā Workshop's creative development producer Jason Aldous said the whole Wētā team were excited by the possibility to bring the unique Aotearoa story to life.

"Being able to turn our skill set to New Zealand, to a story in Aotearoa, to this Poutini Ngāi Tahu story... that is something a lot of people at the workshop consider a once in a lifetime opportunity," he said.

Pounamu Pathway's chief executive Toko Kapea said the pathway will bring pride to the community and to the West Coast.

"I'm hoping even those who don't understand the stories, will still be proud because of the modern storytelling and beautiful building that is coming into the community," he said.

Tourism operator Sue Green described the experience as "stunning and very moving".

"I was absolutely overwhelmed with it, I was expecting marvellous, but it exceeded that by miles," she gushed.

After three years in the making, the pathway opens to the public next week and the other three centres in Haast, Westport and Hokitika are set to open in the next few years.

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