In Aotearoa, New Zealand, maunga (mountain/s) are held in the utmost regard and considered sacred. The spiritual connection of Māori to maunga dates back generations. Māori myths and legends pertaining to Mt Ruapehu and how the mountain came to be, are retold by different Iwi in their own ways.
We are all privileged to be able to enjoy and experience the Maunga and learn about its unique heritage and sacredness to the Iwi of the Maunga. We have been able to enjoy the gifts of Ruapehu over time through the Deed of Gift from local Iwi that has enabled its status as a World Heritage Park (we also acknowledge that the term gift has specific linguistic associations and certain Iwi may have their own history of the legal status for the mountain), and we hope to continue enjoying its gifts into the future. The upcoming claim settlements around the Maunga with Iwi will give us the opportunity to work more meaningfully with Iwi. Enabling economic prosperity in local communities and social prosperity through the enjoyment of the thousands of visitors to Ruapehu each year from throughout New Zealand and the World.
The skifield stakeholders group believe that local Iwi groups have an important part to play in any decisions concerning the commercial operations on the maunga. Whether that be as guardians or involved commercially. Upmost the Save Mt Ruapehu group believes in a transparent and open relationship.
The revenue generated from the ski field operations during the winter season helps to benefit local Iwi and community. Whether it be through employment, income spent in local businesses or through tax, it all supports the local community and flows back into infrastructure, schools etc.
An example of the importance the mountain plays in the local community are the major school ski events held every year. One of these events is the North Island Primary School Ski Championships (NIPSS) which is run by National Park Primary School. This has been going for over 30 years and attracts over 150 school teams with over 1,000 children, parents, and teachers from all around the North Island taking part in the event for two weeks.
In addition the North Island Secondary School Ski Championships run by Ruapehu College in Ohakune attracts over 100 school teams from all around the North Island with over 700 children, parents, and teachers each year.
Many locals are very passionate about alpine activies because the mountain is woven into their lives, business and spirit.