AAT Kings has forged strong relationships with indigenous communities throughout Australia and New Zealand to bring their history, culture and stories to life for our guests as they travel with us.
We are proud to work with the Anangu people and Uluru Aboriginal Tours in Central Australia. In Western Australia at Yanchep National Park we delight in introducing our guests to Derek Nannup. Derek, a Nannup man, has spent his life learning about indigenous cultures all over Australia and loves sharing his knowledge with guests. He tells stories with such warmth and humour, you'll walk away feeling like you've known Derek your whole life, and with aching cheeks from smiling so much. Watch our video for an adorable Creation story retold by kids visiting Uluru.
In New Zealand we also offer a range of traditional Maori experiences which our guests absolutely love. The Tamaki Family Marae on the outskirts of Rotorua is the most award-winning Maori cultural attraction in New Zealand and offers an insight into Maori village life. At Te Puia Maori Arts & Crafts Institute our guests learn about Maori culture, its traditional customs and relationship to its geothermal valley setting. Our guests can also explore the excavated site of Te Wairoa the Buried Village, the Rotorua Museum & Whakarewarewe - The Living Maori Village - and meet the descendants of the survivors of the famous and devastating 1886 eruption of Tarawera Mountain.
In celebrating the unique characters and culture of Australia and New Zealand we have partnered with renowned indigenous artists to create specially designed artwork which is displayed on our coaches.
Kathleen Buzzacott - Central Australian Artist
We have partnered with Alice Springs’ indigenous artist, Kathleen Buzzacott, and Maruku Arts to create a specially designed Aboriginal artwork featured on all coaches in Central Australia. This incredible artwork helps ‘Bring Australia to life’ for our guests as they travel with us.
Kathleen Buzzacott, who is a Maruku artist and of Pitjantjatjara descent, described her dot painting as a reflective piece detailing the many times she spent sitting around the campfire with her family telling stories under the clear starry night sky of the Central Australian bush. Her artwork was inspired by these experiences and spending her teenager years growing up in Hermannsburg where she enjoyed the rich cultural lifestyle of the land and the importance of family and friends. Kathleen’s artwork was chosen from a selection of indigenous designs put forth to AAT Kings by Maruku Arts.
Kathleen Buzzacott said: “When Maruku Arts informed me that AAT Kings wanted to display my artwork on several of their vehicles, I felt truly privileged and am very excited to share my story and culture with visitors to Central Australia.”
Kathleen is of Pitjantjatjara descent and has a traditional affiliation to Uluru and Kata Tjuta through her mother, Alison Hunt's family, who originally come from the South West Petermann Ranges. Kathleen lived in Queensland with her father, brother and sister until the age of 10 when she moved with her siblings to live with their mother in Hermannsburg, west of Alice Springs. Kathleen began painting with her sister Julie Paige in 1998. Her fine dot paintings reflect her happy childhood experiences growing up in the Red Centre.
Lance Ngata – Maori artist in Rotorua, New Zealand
Lance Ngata is from the small towns of Uawa (Tolaga Bay) and Turangi in New Zealand's North Island and is a bone and pounamu (greenstone) carver, who also works with stone. With a Bachelor of Media Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching, Lance dreams of one day teaching art, design and whakairo (carving) in his home town of Uawa, to grow the local skills in Māori art. Lance’s main focus today is on the design and carving of traditional art forms, along with contemporary Māori adornment.
Lance’s beautiful design called Tohorā (The Whale) features on all of our coaches in New Zealand. The design acknowledges the coastal tribes of New Zealand and is a sign of greatness, strength, compassion and exploration.
Māori have a long association with whales. While whales provided food and utensils, they also feature in tribal traditions and were sometimes guardians on the ancestors’ canoe journeys to Aotearoa. Hence in oratory chiefs are likened to Whales. Oral histories recall interactions between people and whales in tribal stories, carvings, specialised language and place names. Whales symbolise, rangatiratanga – a status of greatness, a symbol of protection with the ability to provide for one’s family, people and tribe.