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HomeGeneral TourismStray, in partnership with Kohutapu Lodge, wins top award for Community Engagement

Stray, in partnership with Kohutapu Lodge, wins top award for Community Engagement

Stray and Kohutapu Lodge have won the top award for Community Engagement at the 2019 Tourism Industry Association Awards.

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 tour operator Stray, local accomodation host Kohutapu Lodge and program partne Murupara Area School with a vision to revitalise Murupara town (economically and socially) while providing an authentic insight into modern day Maori culture for Stray’s international visitors.

“We feel a huge sense of pride in what we have been able to achieve in Murupara with Kohutapu Lodge," says CEO of Stray Brett Hudson.

"This unique partnership is improving the wellbeing of the town and enriching our manuhiri’s experience by creating a personal connection with our rural communities. It is a great example of the significant value tourism can add to isolated regions 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 Maori culture and customs including flax weaving, the laying of a hangi, ti rakau and storytelling.

During the 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 hāngi 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.

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