Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 11 October 2018

Welcoming summer ships

Last Sunday the Majestic Princess anchored between Russell and Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. It was an impressive sight. At 330m long and 19 decks high, it has room to sleep, feed and entertain over 3500 passengers. Its arrival heralded the beginning of the summer cruise ship season that will see 15 ships visit the Bay of Islands by the end of December. Ships will arrive on an almost daily basis between January and April 2019 and it is estimated a record 137,000 passengers will visit our shores this summer season.

The visit of the Majestic Princess marks a new high-water mark for cruise liner tourism in the Far North. Cruises are increasingly popular around the world and according to Tourism New Zealand over 103,000 cruise passengers visited the Bay of Islands and Whangaroa Harbour in the 12 months to June. That's a 17 per cent increase on the year before. Since 2010, New Zealand has seen an average 13 per cent growth in cruise passenger numbers. The market grew by just 7 per cent per annum globally. Statistics New Zealand tells us that the 103,000 passengers spent over $14 million in the Far North - an incredible 79 per cent more than the year before.

I was part of the welcome for the Majestic Princess along with representatives of Ngati Rangi, Ngati Kawa and Ngati Hine, who presented a specially prepared carving to the ship's Captain. It was great to see Bay of Islands hapu taking advantage of this multimillion-dollar tourism opportunity by partnering with Princess Cruises, a leading cruise ship operator and owner of the Majestic Princess. Bay of Islands-Taiamai hapu will hold Maori Markets at Waitangi Marae for all Princess Cruises ships to showcase Northland Maori arts, crafts and trade stalls. These will be promoted to passengers before they disembark at Waitangi Wharf.

The markets demonstrate the potential benefits cruise ship tourism can bring to economies like ours. Instead of only visiting the usual tourist hotspots, these tourists spend time at more remote destinations like the Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Napier, Picton, Dunedin and Fiordland.

Like Bay of Islands-Taiamai hapu, we are working to make the visitor experience as memorable as possible by improving our infrastructure in the Bay of Islands and surrounding areas. Far North Holdings is building a new terminal at Bay of Islands Airport, and will spend $5 million upgrading wharves at Paihia, Russell and Opua. Kawakawa's famous Hundertwasser-designed public toilet will be greatly enhanced with completion of Te Hononga - a new tourism and civic hub, and we aim to complete new public toilets at Waitangi boat ramp and Waitangi Mountain Bike Park soon.

The welcome on Sunday underlined for me how unique the Far North is historically and geographically for these visitors. Catering to this increasing tourism in a sustainable way will be a challenge, but together we can ensure this whenua is protected for everyone to enjoy.



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