2 Jul 2020

Māori tourism in Hawke's Bay excluded from financial decisions - businesses

6:47 am on 2 July 2020

The Māori tourism body in Hawke's Bay is feeling unheard and left out of the region's tourism strategy.

Napier Prison Tours owner and Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism chair Toro Waaka

Napier Prison Tours owner and Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism chair Toro Waaka. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

It says there's a lack of communication with the key marketing body as the district tries to bounce back from Covid-19.

Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism chair Toro Waaka, who also runs tours of the old Napier prison, said he had to lay off all but one of his 20 workers due to the pandemic.

"I feel sorry for those people we've had to put off but we have to worry about sustainability of the business, not the individuals," Waaka said.

"There are other opportunities for individuals to engage in I suppose."

For Waaka, it had been difficult to find the right footing in the region's tourism strategy. He said there had been no communication from Hawke's Bay Tourism, the main marketing body.

"We have no idea in terms of how they believe they will be assisting Māori, I believe we are entitled to a percentage of the budget to be spent to help develop Māori tourism products."

Māori koru designs on Napier Antiques and Jewellery in central Napier

Koru designs on Napier Antiques and Jewellery in central Napier. Photo: Supplied

Hawke's Bay Tourism receives $1.5 million a year from the Regional Council.

The council's new iwi representative Api Tapine said more must be done to improve the relationship with the two groups, as Māori business numbers increase.

"There is still lots of room for those groups to be able to work collaboratively together," he said.

"They have tried and they are looking for those spaces. But in the post-Covid environment when 4.5 million people can demonstrate unity, I was looking at seeing that same unity amongst some of our organisations."

Hawke's Bay Tourism chief executive Hamish Saxton directed questions on the Māori strategy to board representative Hinewai Ormsby.

Ormsby would not comment yesterday.

But chair George Hickton acknowledged the tension, speaking at a recent regional council meeting.

"We represent all businesses here and where we get one part of the organisation, namely Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism who won't talk to us even despite what we're trying to do, it's very hard," he said at the meeting.

"It's as simple as that. We're here to represent every business in this region, we do that to our darndest but there's a roadblock."

At the same meeting, Ormsby said there was a distinct difference between the organisations - Hawke's Bay Tourism markets established companies while the Māori tourism body is helping businesses get started.

Napier Cultural Walking Tours creator Louise Cuthbert

Napier Cultural Walking Tours founder Louise Cuthbert. Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Māori operator Louise Cuthbert who started Napier Cultural Walking Tours just a few months before the lockdown said she had good support from the main agency whereas Māori Tourism had been a "quiet voice".

She wanted the groups to meet and speak together.

"If we could all come together more and actually have this discussion - that's what I feel is lacking, so I'm putting it out there - [as] somebody really with my heart in this, I would really like to talk deeper now."

Waaka said a quiet voice was just his style.

"We operate under the radar, we don't look for anything like that. We have been to the regional council, we have asked for some financial assistance from them. They've decided no, they're going to give their money to the same old organisations that they have in the past, that's their decision."

RNZ asked Ormsby, also a regional councillor, if Hawke's Bay Māori Tourism should receive funding but she did not respond at the time of publishing.

Hawke's Bay Tourism has a meeting lined up with national body New Zealand Māori Tourism in August to further its strategy.

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