Tourism in Northland is expected to benefit from a new partnership born out of the challenging Covid-19 times designed to help shape the future of the region's visitor economy.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between Northland Inc, Te Au Mārie Sestercentennial Trust, Te Puni Kōkiri, 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," said Tania Burt, general manager destination at Northland Inc.
The principal purpose of the partnership 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," Burt said.
"It's a natural fit for Tai Tokerau."
The creation of the destination management plan has been resourced by Te Au Mārie, 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 – Encounters 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," Ngaire Wilson, general manager of Te Au Mārie, said.
"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 adviser, business growth at Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development, believed the partnership would act as a call to action, helping to raise Tai Tokerau both economically and culturally.
Also integral to the partnership is Te Hiringa Trust, a strong advocate for collaborating with others in lifting the wellbeing, growth and development of Māori 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.