The Pink and White Terraces, often referred to as the 8th wonder of the world, were the start of New Zealand’s vital tourism industry.
It’s where famous principal guide Sophia Hinerangi enthralled visitors. We can imagine she would recognise the words of today’s senior guides Manawa Baker and Ringahora Huata, who take visitors through New Zealand’s top rated attraction: the unique and authentic Whakarewarewa Living Māori Village in Rotorua.
It was Whakarewarewa where guide Sophia moved after the eruption and continued her guiding career.
Manawa and Ringahora have over 15 years combined experience as guides. Now, their extensive knowledge handed down from their whanau together with their professionalism and expertise has been acknowledged with a top qualification, the nationally recognised Award in Tour Guiding.
For the pair, and for our vitally important tourism industry, it’s a highly significant achievement.
Whakarewarewa CEO Blair Millar says: “It’s fantastic to see their work and contribution to tourism being acknowledged with this formal qualification. This professional development helps to advance their careers even further."
Setting the top standard
The qualification is proof of a top standard for experienced guides, who engage with different cultures from all over the world, and help those visitors to discover and enjoy a unique, uplifting and memorable visitor experience.
Two years ago, Blair and ServiceIQ’s Tourism Sector Advisor Tom Parsons, mapped out the qualification to create a consistent world-class standard for tour guides throughout New Zealand. Whakarewarewa had its own training system, and Blair could see the benefit of a programme that could raise the bar for the whole country.
After all, the guides bring our stories to life and help build a great reputation for a business - take a look at Whakarewarewa on TripAdvisor.
“If we want to attract new visitors and keep others coming back to our country, they need to know that they can expect the same engaging and consistent level of storytelling at all of our attractions,” says Blair.
“ServiceIQ did extensive research and pulled together the very best practices to form a programme that is extremely useful for tourism businesses all around the country.”
Professional skills and knowledge
The qualification is one of the only programmes of its kind in New Zealand. Designed for guides with a minimum of two years’ experience, the learnings can be applied to a wide range of tourist activities including Māori cultural tourism, bus tours, museums, natural landscapes, historic places and more.
The in-depth programme mixes theory and practice and covers the best practice standards for a world-class service. It includes complete health and safety management, through to the principles of interpretation (story telling) as well as planning, preparing, evaluating and delivering a tour.
It also provides trainees with the opportunity to get an overview of where their business sits and its value to New Zealand’s important tourism industry.
Inspiring visitors and community
Having Ringahora and Manawa complete their qualification has also brought benefits for the Whakarewarewa business and community. This includes successfully inspiring younger people from the whanau to learn the special knowledge and guiding skills needed to faithfully uphold the family legacy.
“It’s also been great for morale,” says Blair. “Other staff are seeing the opportunities of training. You don’t know what you don’t know and new skills really lift everyone and benefit the wider whanau.”
For more information, please contact ServiceIQ on 0800 863 693 or email intel@ServiceIQ.org.nz