Excerpts from Chapter Seven of Dr Lima’s Thesis:
"Kuaka NZ Education Travel, in the Bay of Plenty is one of the companies in the tourism sector working collaboratively with environmental government bodies, volunteers and community in order to achieve nature protection. Kuaka has a steering role in the process.
It links various stakeholders, projects and visitors for natural space restoration. It also promotes a profound reflection about how interactions between humans and nature ought to be.
Central to enterprise sustainability are ways to bring business, conservation and community enhancement into the same basket. Some small and medium (eco)tourism companies in New Zealand have been looking for innovative ways to deliver a nature encounter experience with sustainable collective gains. They move ecotourism into a more robust educational learning framework interwoven with hands-on proactive environmental projects for both visitors and local actors’ participation. The model pushes us to reflect on the need for a paradigm shift about the methods of learning about nature. Human encounter with nature should not be superficial and casual, but rather in-depth with the perception that we are not outside the ecosystem but essentially part of it. This is the main concept that drives the work of Kuaka NZ.
Visitors come to New Zealand to get involved in projects that help them to understand the values of nature."
"Kuaka’s system works on sub-contracts and pre-arrangements with groups, normally high school and tertiary students and teachers, domestically and internationally. It brings visitors from a ‘passive enjoyable stay’ into a more ‘ecological and culturally proactive experience’. Through interactive processes with locals and nature, ‘visitors groups’ can live through a singular experience which would otherwise be hard to achieve in a short period without the enabling role of Kuaka NZ Environmental Education."
"The company receives the international visitors not only to enjoy the splendid landscape; but also to deepen understanding of environmental themes and to volunteer in the restoration of natural spaces. This way, Kuaka NZ works to bridge the interests of two sides: nature conservation by the government institutions; and the demands for nature learning by the visitors. The word ‘bridge’ is used because, literally, Kuaka NZ links organisations to visitors and to the local community, and vice-versa."
"In its collaborative scheme, Kuaka NZ has an enabling and steering role. It harnesses the interests of the public and private sector, as well as of the civil society ... It has formal and informal agreements with its partners. In five main cases, Kuaka NZ operates its partnerships through contracts: with the ISV; with NZ and International schools/Universities; the Western Bay of Plenty District (WBOPDC); and with the Department of Conservation (DOC), where Kuaka is a concessionaire.
Legislation does not drive the business; it provides tools like management plans, which are mandated of local government in their management roles for natural resources and natural areas. Kuaka New Zealand uses the results of planning processes…to provide a strategy to engage with various communities and environments. The result of this approach is that Kuaka NZ is always working within a framework of compliance and is providing a supportive role to Local Government, Iwi, community and others in delivering appropriate development/conservation and real life experiences for visitors (Interview, August 2007).
Doug Farr states that “the real masters” Kuaka NZ answers to are those actors it has strong relationships with, and with whom it shares the vision of collaboration such as academic clients, key personnel in local government, Iwi, corporate staff, and individuals from the community. For Kuaka NZ, integrity and constructive relationships become the drivers for the creditable actions in terms of being a business, which regionally paves the avenue for social, economic and environmental outcomes. To be collaborative is the way “to ensure that supply chains and complementary businesses become active in providing similar quality of experiences, to be supported across the whole business” contributing positively to their businesses sustainable performance as well (Interview, August 2007). Farr advocates that sustainability needs to be championed in the tourism sector – by the operators themselves."