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Tourism from a Māori business perspective

Domestic guests a safety net during years of struggle for international visitors

In the year to March 2016, Māori tourism provided 665,000 guest nights of short-term commercial accommodation. The number of domestic guest nights provided by Māori tourism grew modestly year-on-year during the past two years to finish at 381,000 for the year to March 2016 (see figure 35). The number of international guest nights grew 12 percent to 284,000 for the year to March 2016 after declining slightly the previous year (see figure 36).

In the wider economy, New Zealand hosted around 37 million guest nights in 2016: around 22 million domestic and 15 million international.

January is the normal peak month for guest nights for Māori tourism. There is a small July counter-peak reflecting Māori tourism’s presence in winter activities. In terms of domestic visitors, Māori tourism follows a similar mid-winter pattern to all accommodation, but for international visitors the mid-winter pattern is more pronounced in all New Zealand accommodation as a whole.

New Zealand’s accommodation has a very pronounced off-peak for domestic visitors, whereas Māori tourism has a gentler off-peak.

Figure 35
Graph, showing accommodation provided by total New Zealand and Māori businesses, index of domestic guest nights

Māori commercial accommodation providers follow similar trends to all New Zealand providers in seasons for international visitors as well as in the proportions of international to domestic guest nights. One very recent change however is that for Māori tourism, March 2016 guest nights outstripped January’s. International guest nights rose to record levels.

Figure 36
Graph, showing accommodation provided by total New Zealand and Māori businesses, index of international guest nights

Figure 37 summarises guest nights from 2012 to 2016.

Figure 37
Graph, showing guest nights Māori tourism businesses, monthly, January 2012 to March 2016


Employment and activity

Bay of Plenty dominates geographic distribution

A high proportion of Māori tourism businesses are located in Bay of Plenty (especially Rotorua) and South Island (especially Queenstown-Lakes). Waikato (especially Taupo) is next most concentrated.

Employment is similarly distributed, though the main urban centres such as Hamilton and Christchurch are strongly represented.

Figure 38
Graph, showing distribution of Māori tourism businesses and employment, by region

Upward trend visible in filled jobs

Māori tourism businesses had 2,230 filled jobs in March 2015 quarter. Employment numbers suggest a gentle trend up, with a stronger movement up in 2014–15. It is too early to observe any definite prolongation into 2015–16.

Figure 39
Graph, showing filled jobs in Māori tourism businesses, June 2010 to March 2015 quarters 

All Māori tourism businesses surveyed in the Business Operations Survey 2014 had vacancies during the year, and half of those vacancies had been difficult to fill (see figure 40).

This represents a similar recruiting situation as in 2013 where 88 percent of Māori tourism businesses had vacancies, 57 percent of which had been hard to fill.

Figure 40
Graph, showing proportion of Māori tourism businesses with job vacancies, and hard-to-fill proportion

Worker turnover rate typical of tourism-facing business

Worker turnover rate for Māori tourism businesses was 19.1 over the average of the two years to March quarter 2015. This was similar to Māori SMEs and also typical of accommodation/sightseeing/vehicle hire business in general.


Engaging with the world

All target the overseas market, using uniqueness, brand, and quality

In 2015, virtually all Māori tourism businesses sampled in the Business Operations Survey (enterprises with at least 6 employees) engaged with overseas markets. All considered that a unique intellectual property (mana whakairo hinengaro) or valuable brand (waitohu whaipainga) was a key factor for competing in overseas markets. This contrasts with the experience of business in general.
All Māori tourism businesses identified quality or customisable goods and/or services as a key factor; and 57 percent identified staff experience as a key factor.

All online and all e-selling

All Māori tourism businesses sampled in the Business Operations Survey used the internet for receiving orders for services in 2015.

Australia and Europe lead focus

All overseas markets had a strong showing with 100 percent engagement across the main markets Australia and the EU (excluding United Kingdom); while 75 percent reported engaging with the US, the UK, China, Japan, India, and other markets (see figure 41).

Figure 41 
Graph, showing most-common markets that Māori tourism businesses market to

Financial performance

See Technical notes and limitations of the data for definitions.

Tourism businesses show red ink but on a secure basis

In 2014 Māori tourism operators sampled in the Annual Enterprise Survey experienced faster-rising expenses than income. While sales of goods and services rose on 2013, by $16 million (10 percent) to $174 million, operating expenses including salaries and wages rose $20 million (13 percent) to $176 million.

Māori tourism’s ability to pay off debt in 2014, as measured by common accounting ratios, was secure (figure 42):

the quick ratio averaged 116 percent, or $1.16 of liquid assets available to cover each $1 of current liabilities

the current ratio, which measures theoretical ability to pay off current liabilities with current assets, averaged a healthy 122 percent

debt ratio, averaging 53 percent, is below the 62 percent debt ratio for an aggregate of comparable New Zealand businesses. 

Figure 42
Graph, showing financial ratios for Māori tourism businesses

How we identified and measured Māori tourism

The Māori tourism business information presented in Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016 was made possible after New Zealand Māori Tourism shared its member list with us. This information is a good example of what can be provided from partnering with stakeholders and building on their existing information.

NZ Māori Tourism’s list was expanded on by adding any other Māori authority or business where those enterprises engaged in a selected range of ANZIC06 industry:

  • 440 Accommodation
  • 4621 Inter-urban and rural bus transport
  • 472 Rail passenger transport
  • 482 Water passenger transport
  • 490 Air transport
  • 501 Scenic and sightseeing transport
  • 661 Motor vehicle and transport equipment rental and hiring
  • 722 Travel agency services.

Tourism data in Tatauranga Umanga Māori 2016 is the latest data we have for each Māori tourism business. We matched our Business Register to the various sources, and extracted information on those businesses as they appear now. That means that changes occurring before the present reporting period are incorporated throughout.

Some of the collections we used to examine Māori tourism businesses are comprehensive, and others take a sample. Where coverage of a collection is not total, we cannot be sure that a representative sample has been taken. There is no ‘total account’ of Māori tourism businesses, only what we know so far. This means there isn’t an existing design of a representative sample.

NZ Māori Tourism’s focus is tourism, and the NZ Māori tourism list makes up a large proportion of businesses reported on here.

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