October 12, 2016
A new $30 million tourism proposal in Rotorua, New Zealand has been revealed, and it will showcase the story of Manuka honey. This tourism experience is the result of a partnership between Rotohokahoka D North 4D Trust and New Zealand Manuka Group. The NZ Manuka Group founder and chairman, Phil Caskey, said the project would make a “unique Manuka-themed visitor experience.” Caskey came up with this plan over 16 years ago and has been working with the trust for about a year. This past weekend, the trust finally voted for developing to proceed in the joint venture partnership. “It is very exciting and very unique. I am confident it will be an iconic attraction,” Caskey said.
The development plan is scheduled to be built on roughly 50 acres of land near Skyline Rotorua and is expected to attract around 180,000 visitors per year. The plan is to employ 30 during the startup but eventually expanding to about 50 employees.
Caskey strongly believes the Manuka experience and story will give visitors a hands-on and locally guided viewing of the work that is done on a Manuka plantation, with beekeeping and honey operations being primarily showcased with the traditional Maori beliefs. “Its vision is also to reflect the unique cultural innovation when Maori and Pakeha values are engaged in a co-productive business environment.” The work is already starting, beginning with the tidying up of the building site to make way for the construction work to begin at the start of the new year. The facility should be open by October 2017.
The Rotohokahoka Trust represents Te Arawa hapu Ngati Waoku and trust chairman Professor Paora Tapsell, who states they have been waiting a long time to see their land put to good use. “It will be a place that will pull in talent and different ways of thinking for the community with a high level of research, development, and engaging with taonaga [treasures] and the biodiversity of the forests…We’ve waited 16 generations for this land to build something strong, and we weren’t in a rush to put this together and had to be sure we were dealing with people whose values aligned with ours,” Tapsell said.
Mayor Steve Chadwick is confident the new project and the tourism will be good for the city of Rotorua. “It will align with Rotorua’s tourism aspirations as well as contributing to our future economic growth and seeding new investments and jobs.”