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Shared vision a ‘natural fit’ to strengthen Northland tourism

Tourism in Northland will benefit from a new partnership born out of these challenging times to help shape the future of the region’s visitor economy.

A memorandum of Understanding, signed between Northland Inc, Te Au Marie Sestercentennial Trust, Te Puni Kokiri and Te Hiringa Trust and Business Promotions, has been described as a 'natural fit' for the region.

"We’re very fortunate to have this opportunity to work together with a shared vision to help realise Northland’s enormous potential and build a lasting legacy for future generations," says Tania Burt, general manager destination at Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency.

The principal purpose of the partnership, she explained, was to strengthen a mutually beneficial relationship, enable better strategic and operational collaboration across the region, and to develop and implement a meaningful Tai Tokerau Northland destination management plan.

"The challenges created by the pandemic and lockdown have brought to light new opportunities for organisations working at a regional level to collaborate to best position Northland for recovery and provide a more cohesive, strategic future for the region," she says. "It’s a natural fit for Tai Tokerau."

The creation of the destination management plan has been resourced by Te Au Marie, a Charitable Trust, in order to develop a strong regional programme for Northland that would provide enduring, positive benefit for its people and places, building on the national commemoration for 2019: Tuia РEncounters 250.

One of the specific aims of the Trust is to enhance economic, cultural, and social wellbeing by establishing legacies for the future with a sense of pride and ownership.

"COVID-19 has presented an opportunity to revisit the importance of people and place, and further tests our thinking around how it is we can manage the wellbeing of people and place much better than before," says general manager of Te Au Marie Ngaire Wilson.

"Obviously, we cannot do this in isolation, and any collaboration and ownership will sit with us all. To that extent, the MoU partners will simply facilitate the sharing of your voice and your message – in other words, your place, your plan."

April Erueti, senior advisor, business growth at Te Puni Kokiri, the Ministry of Maori Development, believed the partnership would act as a call to action, helping to raise Tai Tokerau both economically and culturally.

"Creativity and adaptability are inherent Maori traits. Simply explained, it is our desire to be well, socially, culturally, environmentally, economically. Our people, our place, our resources are fundamental touchstones and, through this partnership, tourism in Te Tai Tokerau stands poised to take an important mind-shift."

Also integral to the partnership is Te Hiringa Trust, a strong advocate for collaborating with others in lifting the wellbeing, growth and development of Maori enterprise in the region.

Northland Inc CEO Murray Reade called the partnership "more positive news", coming so closely on the heels of the recent Government funding, made available to Regional Tourism Organisations through the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme.

"Tourism is an important part of our local economy and it is essential that we do all we can to support the industry, our operators and communities," he says. "We are obviously extremely grateful, too, to Te Au Marie for enabling the development of a destination management plan.

"A critical aspect of this plan will be effective engagement and consultation across the region to understand what Northlanders want for the future of their region and implement what we need to do; this will undoubtedly prove a key feature.

"Times are tough, and we need to support each other through these challenges. I have no doubt that the additional resources, the relationships we are forming and our unity of purpose, will go a long way towards helping us navigate this. We look forward to working together with the tourism sector, communities and stakeholders to see how best we can achieve our goals."

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