Waitomo News : 2 September 2014
WAITOMO NEWS Tuesday, September 2, 2014 7 Caves community to mark 125 years THE story of how Waitomo’s Glowworm Caves became a world- renowned tourist attraction will be told in grand fashion as the com- munity prepares to mark 125 years of guiding. Beginning on Saturday, ‘Lime- stone, People & Time’ is a nine day celebration of the caves’ history and will feature a grand ball, stargazing event and storytelling night as well as historic exhibitions, movie screenings and guided walks. In 1889, Tane Tinorau and Fred Mace opened the first guided tours of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to visitors. Now, 125 years on, the unique underground attraction is as popular as ever. FAMILY TRADITION Great-grandson of Mr Tinorau and head cave guide Huia Davis keeps the family tradition alive to this day and says the historic celebrations are in honour of his tupuna who made it all possible. “For me it’s about celebrating the beginning of the guided tours which were offered by my great-grandfather Tane Tinorau Opataia – who is cred- ited as the first explorer of the caves with Fred Mace. “So although I have a special con- nection to the caves, the upcoming celebrations are for the whole com- munity to enjoy and acknowledge the wonderful history and sights this place has to offer.” Mr Davis says preparations for the event began in April and he welcomes everyone to come along and join in the festivities. “It’s going to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but we are also celebrating the present successes and future aspirations of the Waitomo community as a whole. HISTORY IN THE MAKING “This is history in the making so we’re going all out to make the 125th celebrations as special as possible and we want everyone to be a part of it.” The event runs from Septem- ber 6-14, hosted and funded by the Ruapuha Uekaha Hapu Trust in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL). SPECIAL PLACE Grant Webster, chief executive of THL which operates the guided tours, says the caves are one of New Zealand’s oldest tourist attractions. “In 1889 local Maori, including Tane Tinorau, opened the doors to visitor tours at the Waitomo Glow- worm Caves and it’s been a very special place for both the local people and visitors ever since. “Their early enterprise has helped Waitomo Glowworm Caves grow into one of New Zealand’s most recognised and popular tourist destinations and it has become a world attraction in its own right.” Operations manager Gordon Hew- ston says the caves have had a major impact on tourism in the region. “Glowworms are native to New Zealand and have helped put our country on the world map with mil- lions visiting to learn more about our mysterious and magical underground world. “The events we have lined up over the coming weeks will help remem- ber, recognise and celebrate the early entrepreneurs, as well as all the peo- ple who have worked at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves over the past 125 years.” Highlight events include: l Glowworm Ball at the Waitomo Caves Hotel; l Waitomo community gathering in Woodlyn Park; l photographic and art exhibitions; l Waitomo movies and guided walks; l Ngapikowai event at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre. Many of the events are free how- ever, booking in advance is strongly recommended. “Waitomo is steeped with amazing natural wonders and since opening 125 years ago, people can now also visit and enjoy Aranui Cave and Ru- akuri Cave,” says Mr Hewston. “We also have The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co experiences so there’s literally something for everyone. “Limestone, People & Time is a chance for us to celebrate the past, present and future. “And we look forward to seeing what the next 125 years has to bring.” For more information about the event see the advertisement on P6. Nine days of celebrations IN BRIEF BP Business Challenge MORE than 60 Otorohanga College students will get a taste of the business world this week in the BP Business Challenge. To be held in the college hall, the three day workshop (Wednes- day-Friday) will introduce students to commercial trading. Working in teams students will create a business plan or proposal for a new product which they will pitch to a panel of five judges – Otorohanga mayor Max Baxter, Oto- rohanga Subway store manager John Wooten, Otorohanga McDonald’s franchise manager Jovan Petrovic, Os- bornes Chartered Accountants partner Tim Jones and acting principal Gavin Hockly – on Friday. The business workshops are run by the charitable trust, Young Enterprise, which encourages and develops young businesspeople. Forty other schools throughout New Zealand are taking part in this year’s challenge. MEMORY LANE: ‘Limestone, People & Time’ is a nine-day celebration of Waitomo Glowworm Caves’ 125 year guided tour history including historic photos (above and below) which begins on Saturday. PHOTOS SUPPLIED SPECIAL OCCASION: Waitomo Glowworm Caves head guide Huia Davis is looking forward to celebrating 125 years of guided tours at the world-renowned tourist hotspot beginning on Saturday.
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