Time for development of the tourism product
“Tairawhiti-Gisborne” can tell rich stories — with iwi as a ‘‘fundamental pillar’’ — to create a sustainable tourist destination to domestic and foreign travellers.
That was the message from Ian Collier, Air New Zealand regional affairs manager, when he spoke to a Gisborne Chamber of Commerce meeting about tourism opportunities for “Tairawhiti -Gisborne First Light” as the region has been branded.
Iwi were “a fundamental pillar of this region’’ as they provided the richness of the district’s story.
This region’s whakapapa was what people wanted to hear and see, he said.
Work was under way on developing three projects — the Mt Hikurangi Experience, waka hourua Tairawhiti and the Chardonnay Express.
Mr Collier said that with the help of Ngati Porou, the Mt Hikurangi Experience could provide a deeply rich experience.
The maunga was “a cornerstone pillar” for tourism. We absolutely believe it is the No. 1 opportunity.”
Mr Collier said the waka was more than an educational opportunity for school students or a sailing experience. It told the story of the arrival of Maori and how they arrived by navigating via the stars.
It was an incredibly powerful story and “no one else could tell it’’.
Cruise ship tourists ‘‘will love it”.
“We know it will be successful — to the point that we are already encouraging Tairawhiti Voyaging Trust to look at getting a second waka.
“It’s a pretty bold statement but it’s one we’re pretty confident about.’’
The Chardonnay Express was a completely different experience.
It told the story of the history of wine in the region — on a 105-year-old train that crossed an airport and had once been full of concrete and left in a playground.
Mr Collier said the region was not isolated, it was secluded.
“That is what people want — “to get away from the madness.”
The two groups who most wanted to come to the region were “empty-nesters” and young adventurers who were looking for an experience and to explore.
The district was full of untapped potential.
But the environment and people had to be respected.
Tourism could be a sustainable business, but preferably with local people who ‘‘have a passion to be here”.
There was a product. Now was a time for product development.
Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand could promote the district to the New Zealand market and overseas.
“We know we can do that”.
Steve Breen, Activate Tairawhiti general manager, said the region had been marketed under too many different names.
A distinct brand was required.
A video said Tairawhiti Gisborne gave brand recognition and differentiation for a small region competing against other regions with bigger budgets.
Mr Breen said Gisborne was a familiar name while Tairawhiti meant ‘the coast upon which the sun shines across the water”.
“We invite you to use the name and embrace it. Activate Tairawhiti will help you.”