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A REAL insight into Maori
people & our way of life...

Join us as we share more than 800 years of
unbroken family history & tradition in Kaikoura

Family owned
and operated

Maori Tours Kaikoura is the first Maori cultural experience to be offered in Kaikoura.
The business was set up by Maurice and Heather Manawatu and has been operating since January 2002.
Maurice is from the hapu (sub-tribe) Ngati Kuri, and the iwi (main tribe) is Ngai Tahu. Heather is of mainly Scots and Irish descent. Many of their whanau (extended family) are involved in the business and have been from the beginning.

Our family have worked in tourism for a long time, the combined experience of Heather and Maurice alone spans more than 50 years.

They say "Hosting visitors, making them feel welcome and creating new friendships comes naturally - we can't imagine doing anything else."


During the set up stage we held several hui (gatherings) with family members to discuss what kind of business we wanted to be and what type of tour we would offer visitors to Kaikoura. From those gatherings we identified two key outcomes:

  • To offer refreshingly authentic experiences of ‘our place’ and deliver them in a  personal and natural way.
  • Use traditional Maori values in our daily operations and in all our business affairs.

Mission Statement

“Share our unique culture, location and history in a natural and intimate way; whilst preserving our values and strengthening the development of our people – educationally, economically and spiritually.”

Our Heritage

Ngai Tahu

Ngai Tahu is the largest tribe in the South Island of New Zealand in both land area and people. Tribal members all descend from a common ancestor ‘Tahu Potiki’ who is the son of Paikea the Whale Rider. Ngai Tahu translates to Tahu’s People. In total there are 18 'hapu' (sub tribes) that make up Ngai Tahu today.

Ngati Kuri

Ngati Kuri are the Hapu in the Kaikoura area and we are members of that sub-tribe. Our boundary extends north from Kaikoura to Pari Nui O Whiti, south to the Hurunui river and west through the Kaikoura mountain ranges to Hanmer Springs.

Today the majority of Ngati Kuri live outside the tribal area. Those living in Kaikoura are known as the ‘Ahi Ka’ which means it’s our role to keep the fires burning for all our Ngati Kuri whanau who may one day return home. This is a responsibility we accept and embrace.

Our ‘Kaumatua’ (elders) are the backbone of the tribe and they provide us with encouragment and support and they make sure we adhere to correct protocol. Prior to setting up Maori Tours Kaikoura we approached our Kaumatua seeking their approval to visit special places and tell the stories of the area. Permission was willingly given and we’re very grateful for this - as had it not Maori Tours Kaikoura would not be here today.

Takahanga Marae

Takahanga ‘Marae’ (gathering place for Maori) is our spiritual base. Many years ago the elders made the decision to keep it as a working Marae and not to open it up to tourism. The Marae is private property so you’re unable to enter and wander around unattended - just the same as a private home. Visitors need to be formally welcomed whilst observing the correct protocols.

For this reason our tours don’t include a visit to Takahanga Marae, although we have been granted permission to use the private access road and view the grounds and buildings, so long as there aren't official functions or activities taking place.

Qualmark Quality Assured

Maori Tours Kaikoura has been recognized as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism businesses by being licensed to carry the Qualmark™ endorsement - New Zealand tourism’s official mark of quality. For more information about this endorsement please visit www.qualmark.co.nz

Department of Conservation Concessionaire

Maori tours Kaikoura is a Department of Conservation (DOC) approved Concessionaire and a portion of your fare is given to DOC. DOC is the central government organization charged with conserving New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy now and in the future. You can learn more about DOC by visiting www.doc.govt.nz

Rankers Independent Traveller Awards

We were awarded 'Best Cultural Activity in New Zealand' by Rankers in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2010 we also won the Supreme Award for Best Visitor Attraction in the country. To learn more, visit www.rankers.co.nz.

Earthcheck Platinum Certified

The Kaikoura Community has successfully met the requirements for benchmarking under the Earthcheck Environmental Programme - a reflection of the respect we hold for the environment.
This status suggests everyone in our small isolated town is contributing in some way towards sustainability and maintaining our unique and natural environment.
We're very proud to be part of such a great community.

Social Responsibility Statement

We believe in improving communities and play an active role in pursuit of a better place to live.
We recognize we have a special obligation to whanau, hapu and iwi and this is reflected in our policies and actions.
We care about our staff……..assist in community projects, businesses and individuals where we can; and encourage our staff and whanau to experience the joy of volunteering.
We realise it takes commitment to make a difference in our community.
We welcome feedback about this (abridged) document and we’re happy to supply the full version when you email us on social@maoritours.co.nz

Environmental Policy Statement

As Maori children we are taught from birth that if we remove the core of ourselves and ruin the fundamental nature of the world we live in, there will be nothing left for our children, their children and the generations to come.
We acknowledge the natural environment in which we operate is a valuable resource and we actively support its preservation and conservation which is shown in our policies and actions.
Some of the actions we’re taking are:

  • We conserve water and heat
  • We collect rubbish at sites we visit and we recycle wherever possible
  • We use bio-degradable cleaning agents and instruct staff in green practices
  • We participate in community environmental initiatives

To learn more about our efforts in caring for the environment or for a copy of the full Environmental statement please email environment@maoritours.co.nz
We will welcome any comments or feedback you have in this area.
Qualmark have awarded us Enviro GOLD status for our efforts in social and environmental responsibility –  you can check out what that means on the Qualmark website.

Trees for Travellers

As visitor numbers to Kaikoura increase, there is a corresponding increase in greenhouse gas emissions from higher traffic levels and energy use. Planting a tree will reduce greenhouse gases and offset your carbon footprint.

Maori Tours Kaikoura actively supports this fantastic Kaikoura community initiative and we encourage you to do so as well. For more info and to purchase a tree please visit www.treesfortravellers.co.nz