18 March, 2019

What a glorious summer it has been for residents and visitors alike! The beautiful weather certainly drew the crowds – Fullers passenger numbers in January were almost 10 percent higher than at the same time last year – and this has continued to be very noticeable in the congestion at Matiatia and the Downtown Ferry Terminal with the huge popularity of the Sculpture on the Gulf exhibition.

Speaking of overcrowding, the global backlash against overtourism is building momentum, with locals struggling to deal with overcrowding in all the world’s most popular destinations. In Barcelona, for example, new tourist accommodation and repurposed housing are accelerating the phenomenon of gentrification – the forced relocation of neighbourhood residents who are replaced by tourists and more affluent residents with higher purchasing power.

One of the most often-raised solutions to overcrowding is to impose a tourist tax, as Italy’s most popular tourist destination Venice has done recently. In Queenstown, the highest volume destination in our country, the District Council recently voted unanimously to hold a referendum to test community support for a visitor tax.

Professor Tim Hazledine, who spoke on the island about “Smart Tourism for Sustainable Prosperity” on 10 March, recommended a tourist tax of $250 per person. However, the consensus amongst attendees was that a tax so hefty might have the effect of deterring backpackers and families – people who tend to stay longer and spend locally ­– but it would not deter wealthy international tourists coming from the increasing number of cruise ships, or by helicopter from Auckland. So, do we want Waiheke to be known merely as “a playground for the rich”? Surely our beautiful environment should be enjoyed by people from all walks of life?

Searching for solutions, Project Forever Waiheke last year carried out a community consultation on the impacts of tourism on the Waiheke community, to inform the development of sustainable tourism strategy for the island. It soon became apparent that the Waiheke community wanted the focus of any such strategy to be equally on sustaining the community itself, because community resilience and cohesiveness are also eroded by developments in tourism on the island. Accordingly, Project Forever Waiheke has developed Sustainable Community and Tourism Strategy for Waiheke, which was delivered to the Local Board on 28 February for implementation.

The strategy in this document has been compiled to align with other Waiheke Local Board strategy and policy. At the Board’s request, it also includes suggested priority actions for the Board, based significantly on the community consultation input. We’d like to express our thanks again to the hundreds of locals who took part in the community consultation and therefore contributed to this strategy.

Meanwhile, as always, local conservation and sustainability champions are working hard to keep the Island clean and green. On 2 March the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage officially opened the Waiheke Sustainability Centre, home to the Waiheke Resources Trust and Kai Conscious Café as well as numerous volunteer activities. A three-month crowdfunding project has successfully raised $50,000 to restore Rangihoua Wetland. Over $100,000 has been awarded to three Waiheke organisations aiming to drastically reduce commercial and household waste on the Island. An enthusiastic group of vineyard employees have taken part in clean-up dives around the coastline. And a new project director has been appointed to lead Te Korowai o Waiheke: Towards Predator-free Waiheke.

Finally, (and a big thanks to local network engineer, firefighter and all-round good-guy Rob Smith for finding this) take a peek at what was envisioned for Waiheke way back in 1964!

Sustainable Community and Tourism for Waiheke Island

Send us your ideas

Aug 5, 2018

Community Consultation Report

Earlier this year, Project Forever Waiheke consulted with the Waiheke community, through a workshop and a community survey, to get your views on tourism and development on the island. Based on that consultation, we have produced two documents for Waiheke Islanders and other interested people.

The Community Consultation Report tells you what Waihekeans thought about both tourism impacts and current development on the island. It summarises people’s concerns and includes their ideas on how to work towards sustainable community and tourism on Waiheke.

Draft Sustainable Community and Tourism Strategy

Based on the Community Consultation Report, and in consultation with the Waiheke Local Board and Ngāti Paoa, we have developed a Draft Waiheke Island Sustainable Community and Tourism Strategy – for now, in a summary one-pager. Following community input, it will be developed into a comprehensive strategy, including tangible goals and actions.

When it is finalised, this strategy will meet one of the key goals of the Waiheke Island Local Board Plan 2018-2021. Its purpose will be to provide a ‘directional framework’ for the Local Board in relation to tourism and community development, and to inform decision-making by the Local Board, Council, local organisations and interest groups, and all Waihekeans. It is also intended to underpin future policy and strategy development by Auckland Council and potentially central government.

Please send us your comments

You can send comments via this online form.

If you would like to make a group response as part of an organisation or interest group, members of the Project’s Local Working Group are available to attend a meeting with your group for 30 minutes to answer questions. Please contact Pam Oliver to arrange that.

We will also be running two community workshops in September for people to provide input into the Draft Strategy Summary. Dates for these workshops will be announced on this website and in the Gulf News. peak