September 29, 2005
Carved Stone Signage Is A Hit At Te Puia
Natural stone signage at Rotorua's best tourism attraction Te Puia is proving a hit with international visitors.
As part of the attraction's rebranding process, large new stone signage has been introduced to the site.
Tourism leader and Te Puia chief executive Andrew Te Whaiti says the carved stones offer a link between Maori culture
and the importance of the environment.
"The stones are simply carved with Maori words relevant to the thermal valley, and their English translations.
"There are 30 stones in all and they are grouped together in families. For example, words relating to the geothermal
side of the valley are situated close together while stones carved with words about the boiling pools can be found
together," Te Whaiti says.
After the stones have been in place for a few months, moss and plants will grow around them, blending them naturally
into the environment.
"The stones offer a direct link between Maori language, culture and the environment. It's important our visitors leave
understanding how sacred and important the link with the land is for Maori people.
"To enhance this, we want the Te Puia experience to be more intuitive, rather than just signing everything up in the
normal touristy way," Te Whaiti says.
Already the stones have become quite a feature, with visitors recognising words on the stones as those talked about by
Te Puia guides.
"One of our educators was working with a group of American teenagers last week and during her teachings taught them
various Maori words and their meanings. She was thrilled when, later in the day, the students recognised the words they
found carved into stones throughout the valley. The students also felt a real sense of achievement at remembering the
"By keeping our signage to a minimum and using the stone signs to reinforce what our educators are teaching, we believe
visitors are actually retaining more about the Maori language and enjoying the experience of discovering the words
hidden in the Valley."