New Zealand Māori Tourism led the organisation of the fourth Māori Tourism Trade Day in Auckland recently.
Two government Ministers, more than 50 Māori tourism experiences, dozens of ITO representatives, seven organisational businesses partners, media, business, and tourism organisations – all these and more were in attendance at this year’s Māori Tourism Trade Day (MTTD) held in Auckland earlier this month.
This was NZ Māori Tourism’s first year taking the lead on organising MTTD – to outline all the things we learnt and were surprised by would take far too long, but needless to say that it all came together on the day (as it often does).
Between the Exhibitors and the ITOs in attendance, there were almost 400 scheduled appointments that took place over the course of the afternoon, let alone all the casual networking opportunities that happened during the Welcome Function and Trade Day itself.
One popular change this year was to introduce an Observer Māori tourism experience – this was for those who are not yet export-ready, but would gain value from attending MTTD to understand what the ITOs require and to see how it is done.
We also had our Tuakana, those Māori tourism experiences that did not need to meet with the ITOs, but were there to both share their stories and experiences of their time in tourism with the attendees, and to support the overall kaupapa of the day.
All in all, more than 50 Māori tourism experiences were represented this year, and the experiences they offered included fly fishing, guided walks, rongoa (traditional Māori medicine), native bush walks, marae stays, waka trips, cultural tours, horse treks, dive adventures, accommodation, canyoning, Māori history/storytelling, and more.
We often talk of the depth, variety, and authenticity of the Māori tourism experiences that are available in New Zealand, but to meet the owners, managers and employees of these businesses it was plain to see just how passionate they are about what they do.
The event kicked off with a Welcome Function for everyone that was held at the Mercure Hotel (who we must thank as they were phenomenal to deal with – no request was too big or small, they were incredibly professional, and went out of their way to make sure our stay with them ran smoothly). We were incredibly fortunate to have Poutama Trust sponsor the food and drink for the evening. The kai from their haukai cuisine cluster was a resounding success.
The warm welcome from Ngāti Whatua set the tone for the evening as everyone talked and ate with abandon – many catching up with old friends, as well as new ones being made.
We were also privileged to have Willie Apiata VC as our special guest for the evening. He enthralled everyone with his stories as he talked about the responsibilities that being a VC recipient entails, and as he gave the audience the opportunity to hold his medals, he told us that we now all share that responsibility too. We were honoured to have his company for the evening and I think everyone came away from that night gushing about what an exceptional man he is.
Finally the time had come that we had been working towards for months – Māori Tourism Trade Day itself. Our team were at the museum at 6am to make sure the final details were sorted, before the attendees arrived from 8am.
A morning of interesting and informative speakers had been arranged for the attendees. We were privileged to have the wonderful Wena Harawira agree to MC the event, and she was outstanding. Associate Minister for Tourism Hon Paula Bennett set the tone for the day, outlining the Government’s priorities in the area and regaling the audience with stories of her experiences working in tourism.
This year, four of our most successful Māori tourism experiences agreed to an hour long panel discussion to talk about their different business models and answer a varied range of questions from the audience. We chose these businesses because not only are they successful, but they are an example of the different types of business models that exist in Māori tourism.
• Kauahi Ngapora from Whale Watch Kaikoura. Whale Watch Kaikoura started as a whanau business which has had a huge impact on the wider community. Kauahi has worked his way up from emptying the spew buckets (something he admitted to the nation on Native Affairs the evening prior!) to General Manager.
• Kiri Atkinson-Crean from Te Puia, New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, which was established via an Act of Parliament.
• David Kennedy from Ngai Tahu Tourism – an Iwi led organisation that runs tourism businesses from Queenstown to Rotorua.
• John Panoho from Navigator Tours, a SME based in Auckland.
Kauahi and John pulled double duty, as they both also appeared on a panel, along with Loren Heaphy from Ngāti Whatua Orakei, about the future of Māori tourism on Native Affairs the night prior to Māori Tourism Trade Day – for this, we are incredibly thankful.
The attendees then received an update from Tourism New Zealand on the work they are doing – a lot of this revolves around encouraging visitors to New Zealand during the shoulder season.
After morning tea, Oscar Nathan shared his insights on Regional Tourism Organisations. Destination Rotorua would undoubtedly be one of the most successful RTOs, and the advice he gave was well received.
Lesley Immink from Tourism Export Council and Anna Black from General Travel Ltd worked together to present a session on working effectively with ITOs. Lesley and Anna are pros, and know their business to an absolute tee.
Finally Rowan Spinks spoke about how to use Facebook as a sales converter – we’ve already heard from several attendees who have taken his advice to heart and are now applying it to their own Facebook business pages.
It was a neat feeling to look around at lunchtime and see everyone mingling as they ate – ITO, Exhibitor, Observer, Tuakana, tourism industry organisation – even the Minister for Māori Development – all sitting down to korero over some kai.
The afternoon appointments went very well. Overall, there were many business cards exchanged, and many hands shaken!
It’s too early to qualify the business results that have stemmed from Māori Tourism Trade Day, but we will be following up with the Exhibitors over the next few months to find out what new business has come their way as a result of Māori Tourism Trade Day.
One of my personal highlights was meeting those in person that I had previously only communicated with over email and phone. Without exception, everyone was incredibly friendly, welcoming, and appreciative of our organisation, and the opportunities, of Māori Tourism Trade Day.
There were many people and organisations that came together to make the day a huge success, but a special mention must go to the Auckland Museum for providing us with an absolutely stunning space for Māori Tourism Trade Day – a lot of people commented on the space and how it lent itself to the occasion quite well.
And a massive thank you to the Tourism Export Council (TEC), Poutama Trust, the Māori Business Facilitation Service at Te Puni Kōkiri, ATEED, and Air New Zealand for all your advice, counsel, contacts, and help that you gave us over the last few months of planning Māori Tourism Trade Day.
On to the planning for next year now!