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Sustainable tourism strategy for Waiheke Island

Protecting Waiheke’s taonga for the future

Published: 12 February 2018

On 16 February a new community-led initiative, Project ‘Forever Waiheke’, will be launched to develop a sustainable tourism strategy for the island.

The initiative is being led by a working group of local representatives from a range of interest areas, including the Waiheke Local Board, the Waiheke Tourism Forum, conservationists and environmentalists, developers and tangata whenua, with support also from Ngāti Paoa and Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development.

What’s it about?

The Project reflects a goal in the Waiheke Local Board Plan 2018-2021 and builds on previous work, especially the ‘Essentially Waiheke’ community consultations undertaken from 2000-2016.

Since 2016, the impacts of rapidly increasing tourism on Waiheke’s natural, built and community environments have created challenges and more evident threats to the sustainability of the island’s taonga and special character.

Project ‘Forever Waiheke’ aims to develop a sustainable tourism strategy by identifying positive and negative impacts of tourism and monitor them over the next five years.

Important areas for monitoring include the impacts on infrastructure such as traffic, ferry and bus services, water supply and quality, and also the effects on how satisfied residents are with changes to the island.

The monitoring information will be valuable to Auckland Council and local businesses, including tourism operators as well as community groups and island residents, to better understand how to manage tourism impacts for the continued well-being of Waiheke's environment, resources and residents.

Who’s involved

The working group will be supported by three leading tourism researchers and academics from Otago University’s Tourism Department – Associate Professors Brent Lovelock and Sebastian Filep, and senior lecturer Anna Carr (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ruanui) – who will collaborate with the community to help develop the island’s tourism strategy and to monitor tourism impacts over the next three years.

Subject-matter experts in a range of topics will also be called on for their expertise. The working group is especially keen for locals to be involved in the monitoring project to start later this year.

What’s happening right now?

Project ‘Forever Waiheke’ will launch on 16 February with two events – a community workshop and a fundraiser at the Waiheke Cinema. 

The workshop, from 2pm-4.30pm on 16 February at the Surfdale Hall, is open to anyone interested in having input into developing tourism strategy. For people who want to have a say but can’t make the workshop, the working group has distributed an online survey which you can find here.

A screening of The Venice Syndrome will be held at the Waiheke Cinema on 16 February at 8pm. The film profiles what happened to Venice and long-term Venetian residents as a result of their home becoming a must-see tourist destination. After the film, Otago University researchers will talk about international sustainable tourism practices in must-see destinations.

Tickets to the movie are $30. All proceeds go to setting up the monitoring project, which will be run under the auspices of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

To buy tickets, or for more on the project, email or call 09 372 7749.

How else can Waiheke locals be involved?

The working group hopes to see lots of community involvement in the monitoring project. From mid-2018 the group will invite businesses, community organisations and locals to become involved in a range of small-scale projects to monitor what is happening in Waiheke’s space.