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Pounamu Pathway - Te Ara Pounamu

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Wētā Workshop has partnered with Poutini Ngāi Tahu, who are indigenous to New Zealand's West Coast Region, to create the Pounamu Pathway. This is a ground-breaking tourism initiative on New Zealand's West Coast, celebrating the region's cultural, historical, and natural heritage.

This multi-hub visitor experience will roll out over the next two years, through four interconnected experience centres—Māwhera (Greymouth), Awarua (Haast), Kawatiri (Westport), and Hokitika—serving as gateways to captivating and emotive visitor experiences, attracting local, domestic and international tourists to the region.

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The Pounamu Pathway is an immersive storytelling experience that creates a rich tapestry of local heritage pūrākau (stories) from the West Coast. For example, at Kawatiri visitors can hear the first-hand stories of real citizens, telling stories about how the past contributes to their lives today, sharing highly personal and emotional stories, about their pride and whakapapa (geneology).

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“Being a New Zealander it’s immensely fulfilling to work alongside our tangata whenua Poutini Ngāi Tahu on a project that celebrates the cultural histories and the natural beauty of the West Coast.” – Jason Aldous, Wētā Workshop Creative Development Producer

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The most ambitious of the centres, Māwhera, features a giant sculpture of, Tūhuru, which is a breath taking hyper-realistic representation of the region’s renowned warrior chief standing at a scale of 2.4:1. The sculpture is adorned with woven accessories, including a kākahu (cloak), maro (cloth), and tātua (belt), which were crafted by dedicated weavers who spent more than 1700 hours creating them.

Inspired by traditions of oral storytelling, the Battles Whare within Māwhera features an immersive 360-degree audio experience that will transport visitors to the battlefields of Te Tai o Poutini (the West Coast). The journey shows how Ngāi Tahu became the victorious guardians of Te Tai o Poutini and of the precious resource – Pounamu (greenstone).

The experience is complemented by a panoramic illustration depicting the key moments and intensity of the battles between two tribes—the long-standing guardians of Te Tai Poutini, and the other, Ngāi Tahu from the East.

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"It has been an honour to apply our skills to a project that celebrates our own indigenous communities and establish real, local connections to the people of the West Coast. It has been a deeply meaningful experience for our team," - Rehua Wilson, Wētā Workshop Designer

The Māwhera visitor experience opened on 11 December, 2023, and Kawatiri opened on 31 January, 2024. Awarua and Hokitika are in progress, are expected to open over the next two years.

For more information visit

Learn more about Wētā Workshop’s Location-based Experience division and their incredible work here.