The accolade recognises the work Stray and Kohutapu Lodge have done in the remote Central North Island community of Murupara.
This work began in 2013, involving Stray, Kohutapu Lodge and Murupara Area School with a vision to revitalise Murupara town (economically and socially) while providing an authentic insight into modern day Māori culture for Stray’s international visitors.
Brett Hudson, CEO of Stray said, “We feel a huge sense of pride in what we have been able to achieve at Murupara with Kohutapu Lodge. This unique partnership is improving the well being of our community and enriching our manuhiri by creating a personal connection within our rural communities. It is a great example of the significant value tourism can add to isolated communities and epitomises the kind of meaningful experiences we aspire to create for our guests. “
The experience embodies the Tiaki Promise and introduces Stray’s international travellers to Māori culture and customs including flax weaving, the laying of a hangi, kapa-haka and storytelling.
During school term the experience extends to a heart-warming community program in which packed ‘hangi’ lunches are delivered to students who regularly go without.
Over the past five years over 20,000 hangi food parcels have been delivered to Murupara Area School.
Delivering these meals in person has created an opportunity for facilitated educational exchanges between the international guests and the students who are able to share stories about their respective cultures, countries and careers.
The teachers of Murupara Area School have noticed significant improvements in the students’ confidence, communication skills and their future aspirations as a world of possibilities is opened up to them.
Stray travellers often refer to the experience as a true highlight of their time in New Zealand.
Stray & Kohutapu Lodge were up against quality finalists including KiwiRail and Skyline Queenstown.
Stray’s Destination Video for Lake Aniwhenua
Kohutapu Lodge: Interview with Toe Toe family (Lodge owners)