HMNZS Canterbury is Catalyst for Maori

In 2006, the two hapu, Ngati Kuta and Patukeha, were approached to support an application by the Bay of Islands Canterbury Charitable Trust to purchase and sink the old warship, HMNZS Canterbury.

A precondition of hapu involvement, and agreement, was that hapu were to be part of the Trust and that the ship should be an artificial reef at Maunganui Bay (Deep Water Cove) to help build the fish stocks. The ship was scuttled at nearby Deep Water Cove in November 2007.

The economic and conservation possibilities of the sunken ship as a dive wreck and an artificial reef was the subject of a July, 2007, economic summit of Ngati Kuta and Patukeha adults and youth at Rawhiti. A comprehensive strategy to use the hulk as a catalyst for social, cultural, economic and environmental development was produced. The summit was facilitated by two senior academics from Auckland University Business School. Some government agencies sent observers.

A particular operational model favoured was that of Kaikoura Whalewatch, founded by a sub tribe of the South Island’s Ngai Tahu and nowadays a darling of the NZ tourism industry. A small action group – Robert Willoughby, Marara Te Tai Hook, Helen Mountain Harte, Moka Puru, Richard Witehira and Matu Clendon – was responsible for strategy development at Rawhiti.

The hapu purchased the ship from the Trust.

Robert’s career experience as an executive and in his own business in Auckland, is employed as a Business Development Manager, funded by MSD, to manage the developments from this purchase. In addition, conservation on land to enhance the native flora and fauna, meant that pest eradication work on the islands and mainland were a high priority. Working with the agencies like:

  • Northland Regional Council,
  • Department of Conservation,
  • Ministry of Social Development,
  • Mininstry of Fisheries,
  • TRAION, and
  • Te Puna Kokiri

To pick up some of these contracts was a key strategy including assistance with hapu planning and development. Te Rawhiti Enterprises, a Limited Liability Company, (TREL) was formed to manage the business of the wreck and the artificial reef and to identify and pursue employment opportunities, at this time, contracts for working on pest control. Seven men are currently trained and employed.

The BDM, Robert, is the person who works for TREL as a manager with an adminstration person, Michelle Elboz. The professional dive companies diving the Canterbury wreck say that the Canterbury and the area of Deep Water Cove has the potential to be the premier dive attraction. Together with rebuilding the fishery and the attraction of the walk track to Cape Brett and the upgraded Marae at Rawhiti, there is an enormous upside for eco-cultural-tourism. Properly structured, the community income potential from the Canterbury could reach $1 million per year very quickly.

Hapu projections include the building of infrastructure to support a community economic model. Using a multiplier of two is justified when using an industry yardstick of one full time employee for every $50,000 of revenue is taken into account. On $1 million, this represents 20 jobs. Together with projects and joint ventures, Hapu hope to create even more jobs for their people at home and for those who might be attracted back home, but also for others in the community. They have a plan to do it.

Rawhiti is a key component in the tourist economy in the North.

Until now the hapu have never been considered a serious contender and yet they have a lot to offer. Their lands, knowledge of the waterways and nature and their cultural heritage will be offered to the tourist market. Working with agencies, other communities and industry stakeholders is a key strategy for them. It is indeed exciting times for all of Te Rawhiti community.

In their own words, “We are opening for business”

Helen Mountain Harte,

Chairperson Te Rawhiti Enterprises Ltd

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