When Mike was declined a bank loan he had to look elsewhere for finance to set up a new tourism experience and after working on his brother Doug and convincing him to sell his Harley Davidson motorbike, they purchased a 16 seater mini bus.
The concept saw the brothers and their families creating a pre-European Maori village from scratch, 15 minutes south of Rotorua. Despite the negative comments from those around them saying they were too far from the hotels; the forest setting wouldn't work; the in-ground, real hangi seemed too labour intensive and too difficult; they went ahead anyway.
Mike and Doug turned all of these negatives into positives. The bus journey to the village outside of Rotorua is now a major highlight; well known for its warmth, humour and appropriateness of the protocols it outlines. The forest environment is stunning, the hangi style is a benchmark to others and the people who deliver the experience are among the most sought-after around.
These days, after years of dedication to Maori tourism, Tamaki Maori Village now employs 120 well trained guides, teachers, performers and professional staff in the Rotorua project and turns over in excess of $.8.5 million. The business has won countless business and tourism awards, including New Zealand's Supreme Tourism Award and Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The unique village and it's dramatic setting is open all year round catering to visitors both near and far.
The experience now hosts more than 100,000 people each year and shares a powerful and natural encounter of the people, history and spirit of the Maori people within a forest setting – all through the eyes of proud, passionate and genuine people of today. The village scene and programmes paint a clear picture of the lifestyle and traditions of Maori existence in pre-European times through to modern day contemporary lifestyle and the sacrifices to dramatic changes they needed to make in order to survive.
Doug and Mike will thoroughly entertain you as they share their inspiring story.