Tag Archives: tourism

Tourist leave no trace education project recognised internationally

When Ngāti Rangi iwi, located on the southern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, and environmental group Leave No Trace New Zealand showcased the success of their partnership programme at the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) in Vancouver, Canada last week, Dr Chris North’s work had a crucial role.

With New Zealand tourism numbers growing exponentially each year, Ngāti Rangi has noticed an increasing impact on their maunga – mountains, in their awa – rivers and throughout the rohe – their lands.

Concerned about increasing damage to the Ruapehu environment and cultural landscape they contacted Leave No Trace New Zealand and together, developed and piloted a programme aimed at training local people working in the area of tourism and in turn, they passed on their learnt knowledge to visitors.

Based on Ngāti Rangi values and principles, the course was, led, co-developed and hosted by the iwi’s Pou Taiao Manager Dave Milner.

“It’s gratifying to have our mahi – work recognised internationally as world-leading”, Mr Milner said.

Tourism operators learnt how to deliver key messages to visitors to the region based on research into the most effective strategies compiled by Dr North.

These messages included, “sharing the cultural significance of the maunga with visitors and encouraging them to make sure they bring their rubbish off the mountain.

“Respectful actions like these seem simple but exponentially help to not only mitigate the impact on the Ruapehu environment but also helps build bridges among community ”, Dr North said.

Research into the benefits of the training programme shows that participants are using the knowledge learnt from the course to tailor their messages to tourists over six months after the training.

Environmental education internationally is looking at opportunities to work together with indigenous peoples, he says.

“With ever growing tourist numbers around the globe, we are leading the way in this project.  It is exciting to see experts from around the world wanting to learn more about what we are doing and how we are doing it.

“As a researcher, it has been some of the most rewarding work I have done.  The cross-cultural aspects of this project has challenged me to listen more carefully, tread more gently and be more aware of my own world view.  Ngāti Rangi have shown a great deal of trust and generosity in inviting me to work with them.

“I really think the approach we took to this project has potential to benefit New Zealand more broadly.”

Leave No Trace and Ngāti Rangi are pleased with the outcomes and recommend the benefits and learnings to other local communities who are concerned at environmental degradation in their areas.


Recreation and tourism to the max: How much love can Aotearoa handle?

Dr Chris North, Deputy Head of UC’s School of Health Sciences, has worked in outdoor education and leadership for 17 years for secondary and tertiary institutions, international outdoor leadership organisations and outdoor clubs, and is a founder of Leave No Trace. He discusses the impact of New Zealand’s tourism boom.

Chris North, winner of the Environment Leadership Award, 29.10.10
Chris North, winner of the Environment Leadership Award, 29.10.10

An ongoing good news story in New Zealand is the success of our tourism industry – more international visitors than Kiwis are predicted for the near future.  This means more work for New Zealanders, and not just in the main centres.

The downside of this boom is the growth in negative impacts. Regular headlines have been detailing the ways in which New Zealanders are experiencing the downsides.  Most of these impacts are revolting, disturbing and rude, culturally inappropriate or just plain dangerous.

The tourism boom feels like we invited a few friends over for dinner on Saturday night but somehow the invitation went viral on social media.  Next minute, the street is packed with people who are burning the letterbox, scaring the pets and throwing rocks at police – when all we really wanted was a quiet dinner.

Back when we were hosts, we used to talk about international travellers as guests.  Nowadays we talk about customers and businesses.  Customers pay their money and get a service.  This relationship is very different to guests and hosts and seems to define our approach to tourism in New Zealand.  From a business perspective, the problems associated with growing tourist numbers can be solved by building more toilets and dispersing tourists to diverse destinations.  These are important in addressing rapidly increasing tourist numbers, but this response keeps the relationship very much as customers and business; we supply the infrastructure and experiences that our customers expect.  That is certainly one way to understand tourism but it doesn’t place the same importance on the responsibilities of international tourists.

I think reclaiming the concept of guests and hosts would be very helpful.  Guests and hosts have a reciprocal relationship; hosts look after guests and guests work hard to show their appreciation and fit in with the expectations of the hosts.  Using this idea, guests take some responsibility for learning about the local culture, environment and expectations.  New Zealanders would work hard at being great hosts – and I don’t just mean those in the tourism industry.  We would then need to think about how we can promote New Zealand as a destination for responsible travellers who want to learn about the places they are visiting and be good guests.

What are we doing collectively to help promote responsible behaviour to our guests?  In a partnership between Ngati Rangi, Leave No Trace and tourist concessionaires at Ruapehu, we looked at this challenge and came up with some strategies that we are trialling at the moment.  How can we educate international travellers so that our cultural and scenic landscapes are protected and enhanced, our roads safer and our guests’ experiences richer? We can’t keep adding people to New Zealand without thinking pretty hard about how we are going to cope – and it’s more than just building more toilets.

Dr Chris North presented a case study on the experience of tourists and New Zealanders in Tongariro to the Outdoors Forum in Wellington, in September.