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Record summer season at Waikaremoana
2 April 2017

In the mid 1800s Crown forces invaded Te Urewera.

It was the first time they used "scorched earth" tactics - raising Tūhoe kāinga at Lake Waikaremoana.

But now the iwi is back - stronger than ever.

Manuhiri Visitor Experience Team Leader Tina Wagner says : "This is the first building we've had here since our people were removed."

Tūhoe signed an agreement with the crown in 2013.

Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana has now been open for nearly two months.

"Although we were physically removed we still had that connection here and we always have had that connection here."

It was built as part of the Living Building Challenge - constructed from non-toxic materials and recycled parts of the former DOC building.

The design features charred walls - in a chilling echo of the history here.

The building doubles as a tribal office and Department of Conservation facility.

Visitor Experience Manager, Derek Brenchley says: "You come to our entrance and we will come to you and tell you our story, you don't just rock up and rip a pamphlet out of the holder and then walk off and only get a small snippet of what you need to know."

And it's a system that appears to have paid off.

"We've noticed an increase in numbers earlier in December than previous years, and right through until after Waitangi weekend."

About three quarters of visitors are North Islanders - but there are also those from much further afield:

"United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and America," Mrs Brenchley says.

By the time summer rolls back around holiday park renovations will be finished

And - the team here says the self-contained units will be as good, if not better, than accommodation found in the city.

NZ Herald

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