People's Stories | Piripi Inia


Tourism - Māori Tourism

Training Pathway

National Certificate in Tourism (Core Skills)
National Certificate in Tourism (Tour Guiding)

We know what we’re worth here but training is about being recognised by other people and institutions.

People from the local community around Te Puia, New Zealand’s Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, have been guiding visitors around Rotorua’s thermal wonderland for 140 years. Some of the attraction’s 50 or so staff are the fourth or fifth generation to have worked in the local tourism industry.

Piripi Inia, Te Puia’s Reservations Manager and one of the organisation’s most vocal advocates for on-the-job training, has been with the organisation for 14 years.

Piripi says equipping staff with a nationally recognised qualification through *ServiceIQ is about ensuring they are recognised for their skills and knowledge.

He says that, when he first started, the organisation ensured all new guides spent two to three weeks under the wing of the most senior guide, who made sure they had the skills and knowledge they needed to deliver the right standard of service to visitors.

“Back in our day we had the staff to cover it. Everything’s changed now. Time constraints mean we maybe limit it to a week or, in some cases, four days.”

The organisation can host up to 20 busloads of tourists each day during summer, with 15 guides working all day. Around 500,000 to 600,000 people now visit Te Puia each year.

With less time to dedicate to specialist training for new recruits, more formal nationally recognised training through ServiceIQ has a role to play in ensuring staff have the right skills.

Around 30 Te Puia guides and other staff – including Piripi - have completed ServiceIQ’s National Certificates in Tourism Core Skills and Attraction Guiding over the last few years. More are currently working through them.

In a region like Rotorua, where the local economy is dependent on tourism as a source of income and employment, understanding how tourism works is vital. That includes being prepared for the increasing expectations of tourists.

“Guiding has changed because you have to be a lot more knowledgeable,” says Piripi.

“Because of the Internet, you really have to know what you’re talking about. Customers are a lot more knowledgeable nowadays.”

He says working with *ServiceIQ helps the organisation keep its training up to date and ensure it meets increasing customer demands. As one of New Zealand’s oldest and most successful Māori tourism businesses, keeping up with the industry is something Te Puia takes seriously. But there is still a place for tradition.

“We still go on the same philosophy as the old guides. You read the paper and you watch the news so you know what’s happening around the world,” says Piripi.

“Because you know somebody from Australia or from the other side of the world, as soon as you mention something in their country you see them just light up."

*1 January 2013 the Aviation, Tourism and Travel Training Organisation (ATTTO), the Hospitality Standards Institute (HSI) and Retail Institute (RI) merged, transforming into ServiceIQ - the service-based Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the aviation, tourism, travel, retail, wholesale and hospitality industries.