We are new business owners operating Napier Māori Tours, Napier's only eco-cultural tours. We aim to fuse Māori culture with our love for the natural environment.

Our tour sites include Hawke's Bay's significant landmarks; Ōtātara Pā Historic Reserve and the Ahuriri Estuary. Our manuhiri/tour guests share in our beautiful natural environment where we bring our local Māori history, culture, and the environment to life in our kōrero.

We're fresh starters to tourism by starting in late 2017.

Read more: Proposed funding cut to tourism body slammed by Hawke's Bay mayors
Hawke's Bay Tourism funding cut proposal could be costly to region

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We have benefited immensely and relied heavily on the support of Hawke's Bay Tourism in our start-up.

Annie Dundas, Hamish Evans and the rest of their team have opened multiple doors for us, creating opportunities for networking, promotion, and business growth, while supporting us with advice and direction as a new business.

We consider the team at Hawke's Bay Tourism as key to the future growth of our fledgling business. Without the team's help, our pathway to success is rocky.

Sustainability, and principally environmental sustainability, is what underpins the tourism industry.

New Zealand Tourism's Qualmark audit process is in its early days but its purpose is to drive quality, and sustainable business practises across the industry.

As a Gold rated Qualmark registered tourist operator our small business is audited against Qualmark's quality and environmental sustainability criteria. We were forced to look hard at the sustainability of our business practises, and we chose early on to embrace the whakataukī/traditional Māori saying: Whatungarongaro te tangata, toitū te whenua - As man comes and goes, the land remains.

To us this means we leave more than we take, and we enhance more than we diminish.

To achieve the Qualmark gold rating, a rating achieved by less than 10 per cent of tourism businesses, and as our auditor told us, "never before by a new business", our tourism business has put in place a number of key sustainability actions.

This includes undertaking annual carbon audits, employing from within our hapū, and our biggest contribution, growing 2000 native trees that we plan to plant around our Ahuriri waterways, for the express purpose of enhancing biodiversity and improving the mauri/ecosystem health.

We are diverting a proportion of our profits and time into growing, planting, and project managing our environmental restoration initiatives.

The HBRC's proposed cut in funding of Hawke's Bay Tourism is a significant blow, that will threaten the growth and sustainability of tourism in the Bay.

We fully understand and support the HBRC's proposal to direct our special rates towards environmental protection and rehabilitation.

Our kōrero to the HBRC is that the funding of Hawke's Bay Tourism isn't an "either/or" kōrero, whereby to fund the initiatives to protect environment is at the expense of Hawke's Bay Tourism.

The kōrero is "and/and" where the support for Hawke's Bay Tourism is a show of support for sustainable businesses like Napier Māori Tours. By supporting the sustainable Hawke's Bay Tourism industry, HBRC support the emergence and sustainability of new paradigm's that can spearhead the protection and care for the environment that we so desperately need.

Naku te rourou, nau te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.- With your basket and my basket, we will thrive together.

Hinewai Hawaikirangi and Cam Ormsby are co owners of Napier Māori Tours.

*The views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Editor@hbtoday.co.nz