Wētā Workshop celebrates opening of experience centre for Pounamu Pathway

Wētā Workshop, a creative studio combining artistry and innovation, has collaborated with Poutini Ngāi Tahu to develop the Pounamu Pathway. This innovative tourism initiative on the West Coast of New Zealand celebrates the region’s cultural, historical, and natural heritage.
19 December 2023


13th December 2023

The Pounamu Pathway tells local heritage pūrākau (stories) from the West Coast using immersive storytelling across four experience centres, Māwhera (Greymouth), Awarua (Haast), Kawatiri (Westport), and Hokitika. These attractions will provide entry points to compelling and moving visitor experiences, drawing in both domestic and international visitors. Māwhera, the most ambitious of the experience centres, opens to the public today (13 December).

Unique experience

Standing at a scale of 2.4:1, the enormous sculpture of Tūhuru is an astoundingly lifelike portrayal of the warrior leader. The sculpture is ornamented with woven accessories, such as a tātua (belt), maro (cloth), and kākahu (cloak), which were made by committed weavers and took over 1700 hours of work to create.

The Battles Whare is an immersive 360-degree audio experience that transports guests to the battlefields of Te Tai o Poutini (the West Coast), drawing inspiration from oral storytelling traditions. The experience demonstrates how Ngāi Tahu emerged as the triumphant guardians of Te Tai o Poutini and of the prized resource, Pounamu (jade).

A panoramic illustration that captures the pivotal moments and intensity of the battles between the two tribes, the eastern Ngāi Tahu and the long-standing protectors of Te Tai Poutini, accompanies the experience.

“Dramatic, bold & intimate” Jason Aldous, Wētā Workshop creative development producer, says: “At Wētā Workshop, we are thrilled to be part of the extraordinary collaboration on the Pounamu Pathway project. This endeavour presents a unique opportunity to merge our passion for storytelling and expertise in crafting immersive experiences with the rich cultural heritage of the West Coast. “It’s a unique privilege to create a location-based experience that uses dramatic, bold, and intimate techniques to tell these stories with the utmost care. Our sense of duty to the West Coast, Poutini Ngāi Tahu, Te Waipounamu, and Aotearoa is insurmountable, and has only been possible through collaboration. We eagerly look forward to the public opening and visitors from Aotearoa and around the world to experience the Pounamu Pathway”
— Jason Aldous, Wētā Workshop creative development producer

The Museum of Kawatiri at Westport, the upcoming Pounamu Pathway Experience Centre, is scheduled to open in late January 2024. This will provide a fascinating investigation of the region’s precious resources.

In October, Wētā Workshop shared details of three exhibits which it had developed for the newly opened New Zealand Liberation Museum – Te Arawhata in Le Quesnoy, France.

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