Description: Whale Watching is a great example of Maori operated business. Whale Watch was formed in 1987. After being turned away by mainstream banks, local Ngāti Kuri pledged their meagre assets to secure a commercial loan from an indigenous peoples' bank. The Whale Watching operation proved successful and a second vessel was bought in 1989.
To expand, local Ngati Kuri then went to their tribal authority, the Ngai Tahu Māori Trust Board, with a proposition to borrow money. The board agreed and also bought a major shareholding in the expanding company. Whale Watch is now entirely funded by cashflow. Whale Watch is still growing steadily. In 1995 the company shared the Whale Watch experience with 40,000 people, 90% of whom were from outside New Zealand.
Whale Watch has been responsible for a huge increase in visitor numbers to Kaikoura. In 1987, 3400 people visited Kaikoura, nowadays approximately 1 million people annually. The company's operation has stimulated investment in new accommodation, restaurants, and other sea-based tourist ventures in Kaikoura. Whale Watch is now the single largest employer in Kaikoura. In peak season the company employs up to 70 people directly and supports many extended families.
Exif: Exposure: 1/320, Aperture: 8.0, ISO: 100
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