There's a fine line to walk between Waiheke Island's tourism operators and our community. Before we established our own Māori tourism business, we were one of the many whānau (families) who up and left the island as soon as the children were released for summer break.
Why oh why would we leave a place that thousands flock to? Quite simply, the nature of the island changes over peak visiting period and we locals have been a little spoilt on our paradise; no pesky traffic queus, plenty of parking at the supermarket and village shops, a leisurely drive to the ferry terminal etc. We left the cities for a quieter life so during times of island 'busyness' we leave seeking quiet elsewhere.
But tourism contributes significantly to the economy of Waiheke Island. Without it, many whānau would be unable to live here or contribute to the wellbeing of the community. Many businesses simply would not exist.
Today is Easter Saturday. It is typical of all public holidays on Waiheke Island; hundreds of boats fill Oneroa Bay. Oneroa village is busy creating delicious food and unique gifts and Matiatia ferry terminal welcomes a constant stream of people thrilled to be here. And that's the key phrase isn't it. Our visitors are thrilled to be here. Nau mai haere mai. Welcome.