Ngāi Tahu are the indigenous people of Te Waipounamu, the South Island of New Zealand. Our whakapapa (genealogy) binds us to this land, and to our ancestors who discovered, explored and settled it.  We are an amalgamation of Waitaha, the first people to settle here about 700 years ago, and Ngāti Mamoe and Ngāi Tahu who migrated later from Te Ika o Maui (the North Island).

At Te Ana our role is to act as the guardians of Māori rock art in the South Island on behalf of our local iwi Ngāi Tahu. We are a non-profit organization and all the revenue we earn from the centre and tours, is used to protect and revitalize our treasured rock art. By visiting Te Ana you are helping to protect our precious tribal legacy for the generations to come.

Titia ki te uma kā taoka o nehe
Pin to your heart the treasures passed down


Story of the Rock Art

Rock art can be found in many countries worldwide, dating back to as early as 60,000 years ago. Rock paintings and ‘cave art’ of indigenous people provide us with some of our earliest insights into our ancestors. Dotted throughout Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Pacific these paintings and drawings have been the subject of considerable enquiry and interpretation. For more on world rock art go to the Bradshaw Foundation.

The majority of the rock art sites in New Zealand are found in Te Waipounamu, or the South Island. They are widely spread from Fiordland in the southeast to Karamea in the northwest. However, the major concentrations of sites are located in the limestone rich areas of the Aoraki district covering North Otago and South Canterbury.

There are two main types of rock art. The art can be scratched or carved into stone, or it can be painted or drawn onto the stone’s surface. In New Zealand it is recorded that the rock art paint was made from animal or bird fat mixed with vegetable gum and soot or kokowai (red ochre) to make black or red paint. The pigment created was known to be particularly long-lasting,and was referred to as, ‘an ink that would stand forever’. In Te Waipounamu rock art was most commonly applied to limestone – its smooth pale surface providing the perfect canvas for rock art.

Manaakitia kā taoka o nehe
Embrace our treasured past


Rock Art Conservation

Rock art may appear to be one of the most durable surfaces on which to apply art, yet drawings of charcoal and ochre are perhaps the most vulnerable in existence.

They are vulnerable because the materials used to create the art are perishable, and few other works of art are required to stand the punishment of the elements, windborne dust, animal rubbing, changes to the environment and, indeed, time.

Despite its seeming durability, limestone, the favoured rock surface on which the art was produced, is notoriously unstable and easily eroded. New Zealand’s rock art heritage includes the earliest records created by this country’s first inhabitants, and they are provided with very little protection against damage, either by natural forces or vandalism. The sites that remain today may be only a very small portion of the number that there once were – a painted landscape alive with the voices of our ancestors!

Aside from the physical threats to rock art, one of the major obstacles in protecting these fragile sites is the lack of awareness of their very existence! Te Ana is designed specifically to raise awareness of this fragile aspect of our national heritage, and to encourage people to respect, conserve and protect it for the generations to come.

Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei
For us, and our children after us



Current vacancies

Guide/Information Services Representative

Te Ana is seeking a creative, motivated and energetic person to join our guiding and information services team. The successful applicant will have a passion for rock art and wider Ngai Tahu culture, and an ability to share their knowledge with visitors from all walks of life – from school children and local community groups, to cruise ship passengers, to Ngai Tahu Whanui interested in connecting with this aspect of their culture. Excellent communication skills and a positive, open nature are essential for this role.

The position will include all aspects of guiding – within Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre, at rock art sites, schools and at Te Ana’s community events. The position will also include supporting the delivery of information services. This part of the role will require computer literacy for processing of bookings, knowledge about the Timaru District, enthusiasm for the sales of merchandise and promotion of local and national activities.

Specific Duties

  • Deliver authentic and captivating visitor experiences at Te Ana Ngai Tahu Rock Art Centre, on guided Rock Art Site tours, and at Te Ana event
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of Te Ana’s learning programme for schools, and Te Ana community events
  • Pro-actively engage with all visitors so they fully understand what Te Ana has to offer, and can purchase
  • Continually refresh knowledge of Ngai Tahu rock art, culture and heritage, the South Canterbury Region and other aspects of interest to the visitors
  • Maintain positive and effective relationships with stakeholders (Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust, Papatipu Rūnanga, Councils, landowners and community groups)
  • Promote Te Ana and its activities within the wider South Canterbury community
  • Process bookings for site and centre tours
  • Support the delivery of information services – this will include; providing information to visitors, processing activity, accommodation & transport bookings, data collection and entry, brochure promotion, merchandise sales and stock take and administrative duties required.

Skill and competencies

  • Empathy and understanding of Ngai Tahu rock art, culture and heritage
  • Excellent inter-personal skills; positive, outgoing and open nature; able to easily relate with people from all walks of life
  • Good communicator, with a passion for sharing Ngai Tahu culture with others
  • Organisational ability with attention to detail
  • Excellent computer literacy with a focus on accuracy and efficiency
  • Creative thinker; able to develop new and exciting ways of sharing Ngai Tahu culture with a wide range of people in a variety of settings
  • Fit and active; comfortable working in a challenging outdoor environment
  • Current driver’s license
  • Current First Aid Certificate

Please send a cover letter and CV to the Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust Operations Manager, Jenna Scott, 2 George St, Timaru or by email to

Application close date: 15 July 2018 23:55 Expertise: Customer Service Work Type: Part-time