How do we strike the right balance, keep what we love about living and visiting here in Mackenzie District, and create a more sustainable future for Te Manahuna/ the Mackenzie Basin?
The Te Manahuna Ki Uta (TMKU) /Destination Mackenzie Project has developed a long-term strategic Destination Management Plan for the Te Manahuna/ Mackenzie District as part of a wider tourism journey that includes Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, the upper Waitaki Valley and the Lindis Pass. From the outset, mana whenua have been strongly involved.
The three rūnanga of Te Manahuna, Waihao, Moeraki and Arowhenua were key partners throughout the development of the Plan. TMKU has been borne out of extensive collaboration with mana whenua, government, industry, and community. The collaborative nature that has underpinned the entire development of the DMP has left all parties with a much better understanding of the views of other agencies, how we can work together in the future to achieve individual and joint ambitions. This is a model for future collaborative projects and opportunities.
TMKU sets out a carefully considered vision and set of principles to act as compass bearings for the future.
The Vision developed is : Te Manahuna’s wonders and treasures are restored, protected and thriving – to be loved and valued while sustaining us, our visitors, and those who come after us.
It is supported with a number of principles:
- Protecting our treasures
- Building enduring partnerships
- Thriving people and places
- A unique experience
Tourism has always been a key contributor to Te Manahuna’s prosperity and wellbeing. It supports jobs and businesses, provides infrastructure for communities and visitors to enjoy, generates investment and promotes regional growth and wellbeing.
The past two years though have been difficult for our tourism operators, and we need to recognise the tough challenges they continue to face such as severe labour shortages as tourism slowly ramps back up. We need central government support to help mitigate the immigration issues currently challenging hospitality, and a more sustainable funding model for small local authorities needs to be developed incorporating user-pays elements to help support the development of tourism infrastructure.
The DMP outlines short-term, medium-term and long-term initiatives, that if actioned would have a significant and positive impact on the way tourism functions in the district. It involves the development of more activities and focuses on projects that are both sustainable and regenerative. These projects will need support from Central Government, the private sector, and Mackenzie District Council to succeed.
The goal of regenerative tourism is not just to keep tourism sustainable, but to leave sites even better than before the tourists arrived. Hopefully, our visitors come here for the views, but leave with an appreciation of our environmental values, Te Manahuna’s natural wonders, and the shared stories and whakapapa of our place.
Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith said he is excited that the Plan is finalised. He added that it was the close collaboration and the partnerships developed over the duration of the project that helped shape the destination management plan. He is looking forward to kicking off the first projects with funding Council has applied for. This would be fundamental to kickstart the projects that we believe are foundational to take the Mackenzie District forward. Projects identified for funding included the initiation of a cultural presence in the district through the establishment of Pou Whenua and be able to share the richness of our cultural heritage, further development of the Alps to Ocean cycle trail, development of an agritourism strategy and development of a Mackenzie Brand for our agricultural products, art, and food, and developing a prospectus to leverage private investment for key tourism initiatives.