Ngāi Tahu Tourism profits surge

Shotover Jet at Queenstown is one of a dozen operations owned by Ngāi Tahu Tourism. Image: Shotover Jet

Ngāi Tahu Tourism (NTT) has made a net profit of $13.28m for the year ending June, up 56% on the previous year’s result of around $8.5m.

The business, which is controlled by the South Island iwi’s Ngāi Tahu Holdings, made a net operating surplus of $13.35m for the period.

Ngāi Tahu did not provide further details on the performance of its tourism division, which comprises about 5% of its total business interests. Ngāi Tahu Holdings owns investment, farming, seafood, property and tourism interests.

NTT is one of the largest tourism business owners in the country and runs around 20 experiences across a dozen operations including Shotover Jet, Dart River Adventures, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Agrodome, Rainbow Springs and Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters.

A highlight of the financial year included NTT winning He Kai Kei Aku Ringa for Māori Excellence in Export at the New Zealand International Business Awards last December.

“This award is testament to the hard work and dedication of the NTT team and recognised their commitment to growing international business,” said Ngāi Tahu. “The award also recognises the importance of our Ngāi Tahu heritage and the values that underpin everything NTT does.”

Ngāi Tahu also highlighted its work in the wake of the Kaikoura earthquake a year ago. One of its tourism holdings, Whale Watch Kaikoura, was affected by the quake.

“Following the Hurunui/Kaikōura earthquakes, our companies Ngāi Tahu Farming and Ngāi Tahu Seafood supplied essential food and necessities, our joint venture transport services (Hilton Haulage) got people and resources to where they needed to go, our Ngāi Tahu Tourism helicopters provided a vital lifeline to the marae and community and our kaimahi connected, cooked with and informed whānau about support services and made sure they were okay.”

In a case study, Ngāi Tahu used its Dart River Adventures operation to showcase its health and safety work.

The tourism business operates in the Dart River Valley and the World Heritage area of Mount Aspiring National Park, offering jet boating, Funyaking, and horse riding experiences.

“The tasks our team undertake are often physical in nature and involve our jet boat drivers and Funyak guides lifting and manoeuvring the uninflated 35kg canoes from storage to a boat and then to the beach,” said Ngāi Tahu.

“There have been a number of sprains and strains amongst the team, so last summer (2016/17) we started developing solutions to make this process easier and safer. We now have a custom-built Funyak trailer to make the transfer of the canoes easier; a roller system to reduce lifting and twisting when transferring Funyaks from the trailer to a boat; and ongoing training on manual handling for kaimahi.”

During the year, NTT had also created a programme to support the growth of its kaimahi or workers.

“The programme includes a range of courses including: Performance Edge – to maximise performance, Rangatiratanga – to learn the fundamentals of being a leader and managing people; and Haumaru – to learn about creating and maintaining a safety culture,” said Ngāi Tahu.

“NTT has an annual awards programme to celebrate kaimahi who inspire their colleagues and achieve highly throughout the year across haumaru (health and safety), rangatiratanga (leadership) and manaakitanga (customer service).”

Ngāi Tahu Holdings said its overall net worth had continued to grow during the year increasing by $89m to $1.36bn. Its net profit for the year was $126.78m, which allowed for a direct distribution to runanga of $49.6m.

The iwi said its tourism, farming, seafood and property holdings all achieved results beyond expectations in the past financial year.

However, its investment arm, Ngāi Tahu Capital, suffered a net operating loss of $9m.

Ngāi Tahu said the loss was mainly due to a joint venture investment in North Island manuka honey and medical products company, Watson & Son, and “reflected one of the worst manuka honey seasons on record”.

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