NZ Māori Tourism CEO Pania Tyson-Nathan (middle) moderated the panel discussion at the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Leadership Summit at Edgewater Resort last week. 22110817
Communities are going to decide how tourism is run, just look at Hawaii, says New Zealand
Māori Tourism chief executive Pania Tyson-Nathan.
“You look at Hawaii, Hawaiians have just recently put out
a big thing saying ‘please don’t come’.”
Some native Hawaiians have protested the country’s
tourism industry, saying they’ve been priced out of homes, their environment is
being damaged, and their culture is being exploited.
“This is not just a Pacific, or a Māori, or New Zealand thing, this happens globally,” Tyson-Nathan said.
Tyson-Nathan lives in Maihi, a small
coastal community on the North Island’s East Coast with a resident population
Tourist numbers got up to 17,000 in
summer and caused strain on the settlement’s sewerage system that needed
repairing, she said.
“The expectation was the resident population, home owners
at home, had to pay $15,000 per household.
“How is that community meant to feel great about tourism?
“How are they meant to say, ‘yeah keep coming’.”
She said many of the tourists spent money at supermarkets
on their way through and did not contribute to the local economy.
“This is why I think communities are going to start
determining what tourism looks like ... it won’t matter that the guy down the
road has invested his lifetime savings in a tourism business, it won’t matter
because your tourism business is bringing in a whole lot of people who don’t
spend, who don’t contribute.
“This is exactly the same as what’s happening in Hawaii,
it’s starting to happen at home, you know what everyone said during Covid-19, ‘it’s
so good to have our country back to ourselves’.”
NZ Māori Tourism
is an incorporated society, the
full members are either Māori regional tourism organisations or Māori tourism
businesses. Its purpose is to position Māori as leaders of the Aotearoa New
Zealand tourism experience.
Tyson-Nathan said tourist operators had
to find a balance between business and
the community’s needs.
“If we don’t do it to ourselves, it’s going to get done
to us,” she said. “It will be community activism, it will be consumer
Tyson-Nathan was one of the panel
moderators at the Pacific Sustainable Tourism Leadership Summit held at the
Edgewater Resort last week.
Tyson-Nathan told Cook Islands News
there could not be a conversation about tourism without sustainability.
She said if the environment was not
looked after a tourism experience could not be offered.
Tyson-Nathan said in New Zealand the
conversation had to change to put Te Whenua (the land) first rather than
“If an island sinks, if communities become uninhabitable
there are no people and there is nowhere to live.”