In the heart of Marlborough, the Pelorus Cafe and Campground, a cherished local landmark, stands poised for a transformative revival. Spearheading this rejuvenation is Ngāti Kuia, a Te Tauihu iwi, whose aspirations extend far beyond mere business operations, aiming to infuse the site with cultural richness and environmental consciousness.
The Pelorus Bridge Cafe, a popular traveler’s stop, has been closed since April, leaving a void in the community. With Ngāti Kuia as the sole applicant in the tender process to operate the cafe, there’s a palpable sense of anticipation for its reopening, slated for the festive season.
Ngāti Kuia’s connection to the Te Hoiere Pelorus area is steeped in history and tradition. Their plans for the site are not just about business; they are a celebration of their ancestral roots, particularly their renowned stoneworking traditions with pakohe (argillite), according to the Stuff New Zealand.
The iwi’s vision encompasses more than just running a cafe and campground. It’s about creating a cultural hub, where visitors can immerse in guided walks, arts, and crafts, learning about the rich tapestry of stories that define Ngāti Kuia and the land they cherish.
Central to Ngāti Kuia’s plans is their role as kaitiaki, guardians of the land. Their approach intertwines community engagement with environmental stewardship, aiming to protect and highlight the pristine nature of Te Hoiere.
Ngāti Kuia envisages transforming the Pelorus area into a destination in its own right. Collaborating with local businesses, they aim to elevate the area’s tourism profile, moving beyond its traditional role as a mere stop-off point.
Sustainability is at the heart of the cafe’s new business model. Ngāti Kuia is committed to practices that respect and preserve the environment, ensuring that the cafe’s offerings align with their cultural and environmental ethos.
The iwi’s vision extends to the broader landscape, with plans for agricultural diversification, habitat regeneration, and conservation. This holistic approach underscores their dedication to sustainable land use and environmental care.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is currently assessing Ngāti Kuia’s application to manage the facilities. This process, including public notification and submissions, reflects the community’s stake in the future of this beloved site.
The cafe’s closure was met with a wave of support for the outgoing managers, reflecting its deep-rooted place in the community’s heart. The anticipation for its reopening under Ngāti Kuia’s stewardship is a testament to the cafe’s enduring legacy.
As the community eagerly awaits the cafe’s reopening, there are challenges ahead. The transition to new management, while preserving the cafe’s essence and aligning with Ngāti Kuia’s broader aspirations, will be a delicate balance to strike.