Unique tourism opportunities are at the heart of a new partnership between east coast iwi Ngāti Porou and Air New Zealand.
Signed at Whangara Marae last Monday, the agreement is intended to boost economic and social growth in the Gisborne Tairawhiti region through access to new tourism markets.
Local delicacies, including Manuka honey, smoked fish and a glass or two of honeyed white aboard the Chardonnay Express will be part of the sell to national and international visitors.
And the adventurous will be invited to dabble in some Polynesian canoeing or greet the rising sun atop the sacred Māori site of Mount Hikurangi.
“This region has massive opportunities in tourism,” Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon told The Gisborne Herald.
“We want to offer premium, high-quality tourism products.
“You leave this region having spent money here and take away rich experiences. What people want are rich experiences.”
As part of the new agreement, Ngāti Porou will develop a Mount Hikurangi tourism experience that Air New Zealand will market internationally.
The iwi will also sell carbon credits to Air New Zealand from its forest estates on the east coast, increasing the domestic forestry options available for Air New Zealand to meet its ETS obligations.
Air New Zealand will, in turn, help Ngāti Porou expand its commercial partnerships by providing access to supplier networks, and will include the iwi’s primary products in its own supply chain.
Both organisations will create a talent sharing programme through which individuals from each other’s organisation can either gain new skills or aid professional development.
Air New Zealand, Ngati Porou and the Eastland Group have worked together on the tourism vision over the past two years, including plans for expansion of the region’s airport to cater for 50-seat aircraft.
“Ngāti Porou has been a fantastic partner over the past few years and we both believe that Tairāwhiti Gisborne is one of the jewels in the New Zealand tourism proposition that is yet to meet its potential,” Mr Luxon said.
“Alongside this, the region is one of the key agricultural centres in New Zealand whether it be for its world-renowned wine, fishery or Manuka honey production.
“We are excited to be able to work with both Ngāti Porou and other local stakeholders in a coordinated way to create what promises to be an exciting new model for regional economic development.”