Wānaka resident, Joe Waide, performed the Mihi Whakatau at the cross country skiing event at the Winter Games up Snow Farm last week, becoming the first to open the event with a Māori welcome. Waide operates the local tour business WanaHaka which has run a variety of tour services in both the Wānaka and Queenstown area for the last three years. This includes offering delivering the Mihi Whakatau to families, weddings and other groups in the region.
Waide said that he was “reached out to by management at the Snow Farm. They had heard… from other tourism businesses that I work around town in delivering cultural connections with their manuhiri (visitors) and the personalised connection way in how I deliver it.” Waide’s Mihi Whakatau was an official welcome to the athletes from all over the world. He was also excited that, “Former Prime Minister Helen Clark came straight up to me as a spectator and patron and complimented me on my delivery and connection.”
Waide also said that he has great connection to the Upper Clutha area through his heritage, “my great, great, great grandfather was one of the first settlers of Wānaka. He then moved to Hāwea Flat and had a farm in Tarras. I have articles from the Cromwell Argus and Otago Witness from 1882-1900 so I have a deep relational connection from both a Māori and European history.”
He also added that through his position at WanaHaka, he wishes to; “empower our manuhiri to be guardians and protectors of the land on their travels around our beautiful whenua (land).”