Hapū enters partnership with world-class cruise line

By Raniera Harrison

Bay of Islands hapū are entering a formal partnership with one of the world's largest cruise lines, Princess Cruises.

This comes as Northland hapū look to regain a firm grip on Māori economic activity in the region.

However, officials would not say the exact magnitude of the potential economic benefit for Bay of Islands-Taiamai hapū.

"The world's largest waterfall starts with a single raindrop, so we're just coming to it in that spirit.  It's early days and we're just working on it together," says Carnival Australia's Vice President Corporate Affairs, Sandy Olson.

Numerous executives from Princess Cruises arrived at Te Tii Marae, Waitangi today to discuss the venture. 

"The cruise ships bring in millions of dollars in a year to the Bay of Islands, and to the whole of New Zealand," says Shelly Kawiti-Jessop, Manager of local Kawiti Glow Worm Caves in Waiōmio, "I think we've got about 138 to 140 thousand people coming in by cruise ship this year.  Roughly about 62 cruiseships- this is just to the Bay of Islands.  So that's pretty big for us and if we can capture the market it will be beneficial for our people."

It's a partnership that could see Māori culture promoted on board numerous vessels around the world.

"Doing some collaboration really, and our strength is in numbers, that we're not just on our own,"  says Janet Hetaraka of the Hihiaua Cultural Centre in Whangārei, "We are all interrelated, and we can really drive Māori business, Māori entrepreneurship and Māori tourism together."

Numerous operators suggest the move could serve as a platform for Māori to reclaim territory in local economies.

"We want to hold our authenticity about what that looks like but we also want to know how we monetise that and make a business of it so our whānau can live a quality life," adds Auriole Ruka of InnoNative Market.

He Puna Mārama Trust project manager Jordan Moon says, "We're not having to rely on organisations and other government funding- so essentially we can create it for ourselves."

Organisers of the markets say hapū have secured 15 market dates to align with the arrival of cruise ships, with two more dates on the table.

"There are definite benefits in this collaboration for us, our children, and future generations ahead," says Hone Mihaka.