Māori enterprise Stay Native is assisting whānau to become hosts to tourists wanting authentic Māori experiences in the remote Northland settlement of Whangaruru.

Creator Pam Armstrong describes it as a business harnessing innovation and promotes social enterprise among Māori families.

“We've got talented people, we’ve got the whenua, but we haven’t got a lot of job opportunities.  So, I thought here’s an opportunity for small businesses and overnight the idea of Stay Native was created.”

Armstrong says it’s an opportunity for tourists to get a peak into the Māori worldview.

“It’s an opportunity for telling our stories about the environment, taking care of our environment so kaitiakitanga and telling our own narrative.”

The kitchen of the Leuluai family is a small hospitality business.

Host Marlene Leuluai says the aim is for tourist to experience Māori cuisine.

“Everyone I have brought here has loved it, they've loved our people, my people, the music, the food - it’s just different, it's different to going to backpackers, they see the real people.”

The initiative employs the principles of guardianship and hospitality and Armstrong adds that the main selling point for this business is the beauty of the lands and seas.

“It’s an opportunity for the whole whānau to do what they already do but make a business out of it.

“They love the diving, the singing, the fishing, the eating all those things and they’re right on the moana.

“So, they get to do what they love doing anyway.”

Stay Native are running information presentations to all communities to promote the business to Māori families and Armstrong says the aim is to sign up 100 small businesses in a year.

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