Friday, May 29, 2009

How to fix Ngai Tahu Tourism

Ngai Tahu Tourism.

I don't know about you but for me when I think of Ngai Tahu Tourism i don't think of a group of tourism businesses owned by Ngai Tahu, i think of tourism businesses related to Ngai Tahu.

Within this nest we have a range of tourism businesses with no connection to Ngai Tahu, other than we own them. i think that is wrong and needs fixing, and here are my ideas.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with the current structure but let's change the name so that there is no confusion about what this nest of businesses is and what they aren't.

Secondly, have we really thought about what Ngai Tahu tourism could actually be? I have posted a few of my views and they relate to engaging with papatipu runaka at the local level. Creating iconic Ngai Tahu businesses where we can show visitors and our own people our stories of our land. We have so much to tell.

I have taken many tourists out for 6.5 hours in a bus, around iconic natural beauty and what those tourists said to me is that they want to hear the stories, they want to engage and they want context. It's our job to create the opportunities to do that.

Perhaps one way is to get serious about the cycleway. We could create small part journeys along the cycleway where we are able to build context for visitors around where they are and what they are seeing. it could be simple pou, or it could be a personal guide. the key is we create it, manage it and own it. We should be the ones telling our stories.

No one person can come up with the best way forward so why not ask our people what they think we could do? Would a pounamu trail work? The rock art sits there deterorating, perhaps we could show visitors these taonga. We have coast, we have valleys... we have every ecology and environment that is possible to describe and show visitors. And they will be interested. Ecocultural tourism is what people want.

But before we do all that we have to stop kidding ourselves that 'shotover jet' or the 'kiwi house' in te ika a maui are part of Ngai Tahu tourism. they aren't, they just happen to be businesses owned by Ngai Tahu to generate profit.

It is over 10 years since settlement and now is the time to reassess some of the structures that have been put in place. Do these structures help or hinder us? Do we have the courage to say that we want it a certain way; our way, rather than just accept what our pakeha overlords tell us.

Ngai Tahu Tourism should be about Ngai Tahu.

Footnote: I've just been and had a look at the shotover jet website. Ngai Tahu don't even get a mention, except here, see if you can find it! What the hell is going on. When our own companies don't give us due recognition - bloody hell I'm not saying they need a mihi or anything just an acknowledgement of how bloody lucky they are to be owned by tangata whenua.


Anonymous said...

If our strategy to invest in tourism was based upon the success of Whalewatch and the desire to replicate this model then it is clear that the reasons why we invested in the tourism sector have not yet been realised.

It would take some strong leadership to reassess the situation and decide if we are not achieving our tribal goals and gaining an advantage from being indigenous then should we reconsider? Would we get a better return in property?

I would hope that we could recreate the successes of Whalewatch. There is nothing stopping us if we chose this pathway but it will require strong leadership and daring. The reality is we won't be seeing outstanding profits in this area for a while but perhaps the key is how we measure success.

Our landscape, our unique identity even amongst other Maori and the fact that we cover nearly half of New Zealand surely create the perfect opportunity for us to lead a new way of eco/cultural tourism. All we need to do is actually have the will to make this happen.

Marty Mars said...

Wise words

Whale watch is a good example of what could be done.

And i agree that it will take strong leadership because what I/we are saying is a major shift in the way we look at things. I think having a commercial arm creating money is great, keep it up. But I think we have a roadblock in creating Ngai Tahu ecocultural tourism and that roadblock is Ngai Tahu Tourism. We think we are already doing it just because the name is there. We feel pride that we own shotover jet, but I say - so what? What has that to do with increasing the mana of Ngai Tahu whanui? We have so much knowledge and skills and yes, courage. I think we have the strength to say, "Hey why are we doing this?", and "What are we trying to achieve here?"

I think the iwi would have a really good discussion/debate around this and the ideas that would flow from it could add impetus to our continued renaissance.

Anonymous said...

Whalewatch succeeded as a result of some key ingredients. The vision of Wiremu Solomon and Ta Tipene, along with the committment of some key Kaikoura families who put their own homes on the line. The committment of the Trust Board and the litigation which ensured that Ngai Tahu are to be given a reasonable preference when it comes to issuing permits to "disturb" marine mammals (in this case whales) off the Kaikoura Coast which has in turn led to a monopoply business.

The simple fact is that most tourism businesses do not succeed at a corporate level. Owner operated and family businesses and/or monopoly operators of icon businesses are the most successful.

Shotover Jet is a Ngai Tahu owned business. The passengers could care less if we or the Chinese government owned it. The point of the ride is to experience thrills etc.

Anyone going on Whalewatch would not really get that it is a Ngai Tahu / Ngati Kuri business either. Those folks want to see whales and other species such as albatross and dolphins and do not get on the boats because it is a Maori business.

I disagree that leadership is what is required in a tourism business - it is followers (customers). There is a market for eco/Maori tours but it is small. Should we try to grow it, hell yes. Should we look to the corporate model, no way. To deliver a high quality authentic Ngai Tahu eco-tourism experience is a whanau and Runanga level business which requires passionate and committed individuals who have a vision not structures full of managers and accountants.

Marty Mars said...

Exactly right. Any initiative must be driven from the paptipu runanga level. There can be advantages in having some overall structure providing advice on legalities etc, there is an area within TRONT that does that. But ultimately for anything like this to work it must have engagement from ahi kaa.

Marty Mars said...

Aroha mai you know I mean Papatipu Runaka.