Auckland’s hāngī expert Rewi Spraggon this week scooped the top prize at New Zealand Māori Tourism’s Dragons Den 2019 Awards.  

Spraggon, who is widely known as Aotearoa’s Hāngī Master, won the main award and $10,000 cash in the Small Māori Tourism Business with a Big Idea category. 

The 2019 event was held at Tuahiwi Marae in Ōtautahi (Christchurch) earlier this week, where five aspiring Māori tourism experiences were awarded cash prizes to a total of $70,000 after presenting on stage to our taniwha - Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere (Chair) Lisa Tumahai, Auckland Airport’s Tourism and International Market Development Manager Mark Frood, Tourism Business Advice Director Lesley Immink and Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu’s General Manager Strategy and Influencer Rakihia Tau.  

Spraggon (Ngāti Hine, Te Kawerau a Maki, Ngāti Maniapoto) plans to expand and develop a portable hāngī pit to cook in throughout the Tāmaki Makaurau region while also educating rangatahi on ancient cooking techniques, providing visitors with more insights into Māori tikanga and spreading manaakitanga around the world.  

Another Auckland-based tourism operator, Te Haerenga Guided Walks, won $10,000 and the category Journeys of Aotearoa through Māori Tourism for their joint project titled Ngā Toru Rākau with Nadine and Karl Toetoe, Koro Carman, and James Brown (Ngāti Manawa, Ngāi Tai, Ngā Puhi).  

The Ngā Toru Rākau concept intends to link three ancient forests - Northland (Footprints Waipoua with Tane Mahuta), Auckland (Te Haerenga Guided Walks, Rangitoto Island with New Zealand’s largest Pohutukawa Forest) and Whirinaki Forest in the Central North Island.  

The concept will see each of the three tribal forest and hiking products grouped together as a collective cultural and environmental experience. 

As part of the Destination AKL 2025 Strategy, the Māori Tourism programme has been supporting the award-winning tourism businesses to build capability and growth, product development and content.  

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