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The Mārahau Pledge – A Commitment To The Environment

A group of Te Tauihu-based tourism operators are making a groundbreaking commitment to regenerative tourism. Every tourism operator based out of Mārahau, from water taxis and kayaking to canyoning and walking guides, have come together under a new initiative called the Mārahau Pledge, launched today.

The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest and most popular national park. Many people's journeys into the Park start from Mārahau, a small coastal settlement.

Developed in partnership with the Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA), the Mārahau Pledge is an active commitment from the local tourism operators to care for the environment. For visitors leaving from Mārahau it means they will have a zero carbon experience regardless of which Mārahau operator they choose. A portion of every ticketed experience will go to projects focused on improved biodiversity and conservation outcomes for Mārahau Village and the surrounding area. Additionally all the businesses signed up to the pledge will share knowledge that will improve the sustainability of tourism operations.

“Our region is famous for its beautiful environment, and people from all around Aotearoa and the world come here to find a connection with nature. As people who live, work and play here, we have a collective responsibility to care for and respect the environment,” says Johny O’Donnell, spokesperson for the project. “Every visitor is valuable to our local economy, and we need to ensure that we get the balance right. We need to work together on ways to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The businesses taking the Mārahau Pledge are showing the way. It’s transformational.”

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Fiona Wilson, NDRA Chief Executive says that sustainability is an important consideration for many visitors. “People are really keen to travel again but there has been a fundamental shift in awareness about the impacts of tourism on local communities and the environment. Post-Covid it's definitely not back to business as usual for the visitor sector, we all know that there have to be changes,” Wilson says.

“A key focus for our Destination Management Plan is to encourage visitors to care more and do more for our region while they are here. We know there is a growing demand for light footprint travel and last year launched New Zealand’s first Zero Carbon Itinerary to demonstrate how easy it is for visitors to travel more consciously in Nelson Tasman. The Mārahau Pledge is another way to give visitors confidence that their experience isn’t going to have a net negative impact on the environment. The tourism operators based in Mārahau, along with a number of other businesses in Nelson Tasman, are leading the way in this sector to demonstrate their commitment, not only to the Park, but to the surrounding area. They love and care about Mārahau, and they want to do more than protect it, they want to enhance it.”

“Mārahau really is a village. There are a small number of us who live here, but thousands of people visit, particularly on their way to experience the Abel Tasman,” says Renee Thomas, (Ngāti Rārua) kaitiaki of Wakatū Incorporation’s whenua at Mārahau. “The Mārahau Pledge is a recognition that large numbers of visitors do have an impact on the environment, and that the visitor sector is taking responsibility to make a practical contribution to the long-term wellbeing of te taiao in Mārahau.”

The Mārahau Pledge - Te Oati mō Mārahau

This is our pledge to Mārahau.

This is our pledge for the future.

We commit to care for Mārahau, its surrounds and each other.

To be aware of and take responsibility for our impact.

To inspire protection through connection.

To tread lightly and explore slowly.

To regenerate our land, air, water and all living things.

To give back to this place that gives so much to us.

To care more and explore more.

To be good ancestors.

Nei tō mātou oati ki a Mārahau

Nei te oati mō anamata

Ko Mārahau kei runga, kei raro, kei roto, kei waho. Tātou ki a tatou.

Kia rongo, kia mōhio, kia mārama ki ō tātou tapuwae waro

Kia whakaohoohotia te pare i te herenga tangata

Kia āta tuhuratia.

Kia tipu, kia rea ngā koha ō rātou mā.

Kia taukohatia ngā hua o Mārahau.

Kia tōmenetia i roto i te manaaki.

Kia tika te tūāpapa mo āpōpō

Mārahau Pledge FAQs

What is the Mārahau Pledge?

All businesses who have taken the pledge have committed to these actions:

Commitment to Zero Carbon

To tread lightly and explore slowly.

We are committed to taking responsibility for our actions. That is why we have all measured, reduced and offset our annual greenhouse gas emissions to gain zero-carbon certification, so that all visitor experiences leaving from Mārahau are zero-carbon experiences. Through Ekos, a local company, we are investing in carbon sequestration and biodiversity outcomes through a localised offset programme.

Commitment to cooperate

To inspire protection through connection.

We are committed to harnessing the power of collective action. We believe by working together, we can achieve more. So if one operator finds a smart way to be more sustainable, we’ll share it, so we can all gain.

We'll also work together on initiatives that improve outcomes for Mārahau. By focusing our efforts collectively on the local community and environment, we can achieve so much for Mārahau.

Commitment to give back

To give back to this place that gives so much to us.

We are committed to go beyond protecting, and we want to enhance. This is why we are setting up a fund that will benefit the environment and community of Mārahau. For every visitor experience leaving from Mārahau, a percentage of the ticket price will go towards Mārahau-specific projects. We’ll work with mana whenua and the Mārahau community to identify projects that will make the most difference.

Each ticket purchased will show an environment access fee (EAF). This fee brings together all the ways we are giving back – the Mārahau Pledge, our support of other environmental charities, and the Department of Conservation concession that goes towards Abel Tasman National Park.

Which businesses are involved?

Kahu Kayaks www.kahukayaks.co.nz

Abel Tasman Kayaks www.abeltasmankayaks.co.nz

Mārahau Sea Kayaks www.msk.co.nz

R&R Kayaks www.rrkayaks.co.nz

Mārahau Water Taxis www.marahauwatertaxis.co.nz

AquaTaxi www.aquataxi.co.nz

Abel Tasman Canyoning www.abeltasmancanyons.co.nz

Abel Tasman Eco Tours www.abeltasmanecotours.co.nz

Abel Tasman Guides www.abeltasmanguides.co.nz

Will the business still compete?

While the businesses will cooperate on sustainability, the nine businesses will still compete as individual businesses, with different offerings and prices.

Where is Mārahau?

Mārahau is a small coastal settlement in Te Tauihu, the top of the South Island. It is around 60 km from Nelson, and around 20 km from Motueka. It has around 200 permanent residents.

Have other businesses in Mārahau, like accommodation providers and restaurants joined the Mārahau Pledge?

The initial signatories to the Mārahau Pledge are businesses that run ticketed experiences from Mārahau into Abel Tasman Park. We will continue to develop the project, including developing how other like-minded local businesses can take part.

Who is Ekos?

Ekos is a Te Tauihu-based company that helps businesses measure, reduce and offset their carbon.


What is the Environmental Access Fee (EAF)?

The Environmental Access Fee (EAF) is a portion of the ticket price that goes directly towards preserving the unique environment in Mārahau and the Abel Tasman National Park. You’ll see it as a separate line on your ticket. Students on school trips and conservation volunteers are not charged the EAF.

The EAF includes the compulsory concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation, as well as voluntary contributions to local organisations and projects to improve the environment, ecology and access to the national park.

The EAF is made up of three parts

· The concession fee tourism operators pay the Department of Conservation to access the Park. DOC invest this money directly back into the Park.

· The ‘Birdsong Levy’ that tourism operators voluntary contribute to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust

· The Mārahau Pledge fee which will go directly to projects that will benefit the environment and community of Mārahau

How do we know what projects have been funded by the Mārahau Pledge?

We’ll continue to update the Mārahau Pledge website with information about sustainability successes and projects funded.

I’d like to suggest a project to be funded by the Mārahau Pledge, what do I do?

If you’ve got a project idea for the Mārahau Pledge email us johny@odandco.nz

As a visitor to Mārahau and the Abel Tasman, what can I do to take care of the environment?

· Anything you bring in with you, take out – this includes plastic, glass and food waste

· Respect the plants and wildlife – the only thing from the Park you should be taking is photographs

· Our native birds are not adapted to human food, so please don’t feed them, no matter how cute they are!

You can also take the Tiaki promise

· Care for land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace

· Travel safely, showing care and consideration for all

· Respect culture, travelling with an open heart and mind

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