Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd – the commercial arm of Te Runanga o Ngati Awa – is buying iconic Whakatane tour operator White Island Tours Ltd, which has been operating out of Whakatane for more than 25 years.
White Island Tours holds an exclusive licence for marine based tourism on New Zealand's only active marine volcano, Whakaari/White Island.
The high quality tour has earned a Gold Enviro Award from Qualmark.
White Island Tours has been operating out of Whakatane for more than 25 years showcasing New Zealand's only active marine volcano, Whakaari/White Island. The exclusive license to land a boat on White Island, transfers as part of the sale.
The island itself remains the property of Whakaari Trustee Ltd.
The purchase includes all White Island Tours operations, equipment and marine vessels including Motouroa Cat, PeeJay IV, Predator and Phoenix, along with a number of inflatable zodiacs and all running equipment;
It also includes the freehold land and buildings, villa, bungalow and micro village and motel operations known as White Island Rendezvous Motel. White Island Rendezvous is a modern 38 room complex located on the Strand in Whakatane.
Additionally the purchase includes PeeJays Café, and all intellectual property, websites, media, branding and naming rights and business operations that make up the White Island Tours group.
The sale also includes White Island Rendezvous, a 38 room motel complex with a villa, bungalow and micro-village, as well as PeeJays Café.
Ngati Awa Group Holdings Ltd Chief Executive Geoff Hamilton says the purchase is a strategic acquisition, and is part of a wider plan to develop Ngati Awa assets in the Ngati Awa rohe.
“The investment is a commercial decision and will benefit Ngati Awa financially, but comes with wider benefits. We are thinking long term, and see White Island Tours as a key part of the community here in Whakatane,” says Geoff.
“As the local iwi Ngati Awa will be able to incorporate this unique business into a wider Ngati Awa tourism experience, in line with increasing tourist demand for authentic cultural experiences.
“As well, a much-admired business will stay locally owned, and with an organisation that has a long-term commitment to supporting economic growth in our region.
“Peter and Jenny Tait have developed this visitor experience from an idea, into the fantastic operation that it is today. From their first tour, with just six people on board, to over 17,000 visitors in the past year, White Island Tours' success is testament to the hard work of Peter, Jenny and their team.
“White Island Tours is an outstanding international tourism experience. This is an investment that all Ngati Awa can be proud of.”
The sale will have no impact on the staffing and the employment conditions of the current staff of White Island Tours. It is a well-run operation with excellent staff and we hope the staff will work with us to incorporate the business into the wider Ngati Awa portfolio.
The purchase price is confidential.
Ngati Awa settled a Treaty of Waitangi claim with the Crown in 2005, including assets and cash of approximately $42 million. It currently has interests in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, equities and property totaling $114 million.
Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne says it is a very exciting venture and decision for the Whakatane District.
“As Mayor I will be working with Ngati Awa Group Holdings to enhance the growth in tourism for the betterment of our whole community. This will create jobs.
“A huge thank you to Peter and Jenny Tait for their foresight in establishing this iconic business and I wish them well.”