The membership of the tourism futures taskforce has now been confirmed, tourism minister Kelvin Davis announced at an event at Whakarewarewa today.

Two members of the new taskforce are from Rotorua - mayor Steve Chadwick and tourism operator Tak Mutu.


"The main purpose of the independent tourism futures taskforce is to lead the thinking on the future of tourism in New Zealand," Davis said.

Joining co-chairs Chadwick and Grant Webster are:

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• Anna Pollock, founder of Conscious Travel
• Ngahiwi Tomoana, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated
• Nick Judd, former chief strategy, networks and alliance officer, Air New Zealand
• Sue Suckling, independent director and Strategy Consultant
• Takurua (Tak) Mutu, co-owner and director of MDA Group

They will advise The Government on what changes could be made to the tourism system, to ensure tourism "enriches" Aotearoa and the wellbeing of New Zealanders, Davis said in a media statement.

"Covid-19 is presenting us a unique opportunity to do this and to address the long-standing challenges present in some parts of the tourism sector.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Photo / George Novak
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Photo / George Novak

"The tourism futures taskforce will be at the centre of the next chapter in tourism in New Zealand. I'm thrilled to see a strong and dedicated group of people who will be able to apply their leadership, skills and experience to building a tourism sector that delivers on its promises to Kiwis and visitors alike."

The tourism futures taskforce co-chairs were announced in June, and bring a deep understanding of the tourism sector to the group, the statement said.

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Acting as a crucial sounding board for the taskforce is a 34 strong advisory group which has also now been confirmed, with representatives from a cross-section of New Zealand's public and private sectors.

The tourism futures taskforce will meet regularly and are expected to deliver draft recommendations to Cabinet in December 2020.

During the announcement event, Davis said it was appropriate to make the announcement at the birthplace of New Zealand tourism - "For 200 years Te Arawa has been at the forefront of tourism in New Zealand".

"We know Covid-19 is taking a heavy toll on our tourism industry.

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"While our visitors aren't able to come to enjoy all the great things Aotearoa has to offer, business owners, staff and supporting industries will continue to hurt."

He said right from the early stages government had been doing what it took to cushion the blow, support businesses and workers, and position the economy for recovery.

Davis also announced today that more than $300 million more funding from the Tourism Sector Recovery Package had now been approved.

This meant the $400 million package was now fully allocated.

He said more than $230 million in grants and loans for 126 tourism businesses had now been approved.

"This includes support direct to Māori tourism businesses and nearly $39 million for Bay of Plenty tourism operators. This will help secure jobs and boost business at this incredibly tough time."

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Davis said this package supported businesses like Whakarewarewa and tourism operators of all shapes and sizes.

"Here in Rotorua alone, businesses like Mitai Maori Village, Polynesian Spas, Lakeland Queen, Volcanic Air and National Kiwi Hatchery will be supported.

He also mentioned how Pam McGrath from Buried Village of Te Wairoa and Simon Short from Velocity Valley were attending and were two more great Rotorua businesses which would receive support through the programme.

He said the allocations also included investing $50 million in a Regional Events Fund to give people another reason to explore the country, up to $20 million in loans to inbound tour operators, and providing $10 million to help tourism businesses adapt to the current reality by helping them develop digitally.

Davis said he was confident that Aotearoa's tourism industry was in a good place for the future.

"The great thing about tourism is the spill-over effect and everyone benefits."

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He said it was not a deliberate thing to have big Rotorua representation on the taskforce, but they were people with the right skills and that's what was most important - "The skills to envision what our tourism future needs".

He said the taskforce was keen and enthusiastic and had met already, so he thought delivering draft recommendations to Cabinet in December would be enough time.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick (left). Photo / George Novak
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick (left). Photo / George Novak

Chadwick said the tourism futures taskforce was the most visionary piece of work she had been involved in.

"I'm excited by the big thinking we've been asked to do, and the opportunity given to us to re-define the future of New Zealand tourism," she said.

During the announcement event, she said the taskforce was excited, would get things done and deliver.

"Through Covid we had a halo across our country, and we still feel it and we mustn't
forget it."

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Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Photo / George Novak
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. Photo / George Novak

Webster said he was looking forward to delivering on the mandate.

"I'm pleased the tourism recovery ministers have been open to the taskforce being bold in its actions and direction," he said.


During the announcement event, Mitai Maori Village founder Wetini Mitai-Ngatai said they had needed some sort of assistance after the impacts of Covid-19 and so this was a wonderful thing to hear.

Velocity Valley managing director Simon Short said he was honoured to be there to hear the news, and it meant he could bring his staffing levels back up to fully operational.

He would be going from the announcement to tell his staff of the news.

Pam McGrath, representing the Smith family from Buried Village, said it wasn't until a catastrophe like Covid-19 that they had needed to ask for help during its 90 years.

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"Like everyone else, we will be able to keep and hire more staff and work on projects."

Whakarewarewa Village Charitable Trust chairman James Warbrick said it was a humbling day, giving thanks to the helping hand being given, to keeping Covid out of New Zealand and to everyone who was there supporting the day.