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Job profile! Social Entrepreneur: Eco-Tourism in New Zealand - Business Plan in the Rainforest

Joe Doherty of the Tūho tribe runs an eco-tourismCompany in Te Urewera National Park near Roturura. He financed his studies by hunting wild boar. “If we want to save the future of the earth,” he says, “ecological change is inevitable”.


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Study funding by boar hunting

Joe grew up here in the mountains of Te Urewera National Park - in humble circumstances and without electricity. In 1973 he left his home to study in Wellington. Life in the big city was a big change for him, he says. “But my parents always encouraged me to be educated”.

He had financed his studies through government funding - but also partly through the hunting of wild boars, which he brought as a hitchhiker to Wellington and sold there for good money.

6 Years at the New Zealand National Museum

After graduating from college, he worked for the government for 25 years, most of which time he lived in Wellington. Joe worked hard with that during this time ObjectiveTo become a manager of a government organization.

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Among other things, he worked for six years for the Te Papa Tongarewa, the New Zealand National Museum, in which the Maori culture plays a decisive role.

Money and career do not make you happy

But at some point I realized: “I had a job and a lot of money, but it didn't feel fulfilled.” Then he began to deal with climate change and environmental protection.

And soon realized: “I was part of the problem by using unnecessary resources and accumulating things.” And he admitted to himself that he would rather start his own business and return to his homeland.

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Businessplan according to Stammestradition

So he developed it in close cooperation with his tribe Concept ABC School Joke Oud for its ecological tourism. The goal was that the tribe not only preserve their forest area, but also run a afforestation project.

The company should also provide jobs and income in environmental protection for young people. "The communities are very poor," says Joe: "So there was hardly any headwind in the implementation of my plans"

Hikes and bush camp

His company, Te Ureweratreks, now offers various hiking tours through the National Park where visitors can learn the local fauna and flora as well as the history and culture of the Tuhoe, a bushcamp and a tree planting project.

“We offer tours that range from 45 minutes to four or five days,” explains Joe. “On the way people sleep in tents or huts that we have built. We'll take care of the food. Some tours are also carried out with horses. "

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An entrepreneur who does not want to become too big

Joe currently has around 500 guests a year. The Buschcemp can accommodate up to 20 guests at the same time. "If 1000 guests came a year, the company would run really well and generate enough money for the tribe and social-ecological projects."

"We mustn't get too big either," says Joe: "Personal contact with customers should be maintained, that's an important part of the project."

More about the social entrepreneurial approach can be found in the second part of my article.

How sustainable is tourism?

Joe's customers are mainly from New Zealand, Europe and the USA. He's already tried to acquire in more close regions like China or India and talked to travel agents there. But they had declined: “Indians and Chinese don't travel!” Was the statement.

Finally, I ask Joe: How sustainable can tourism actually be if we have to fly halfway around the world? “A good question,” says Joe. “I think we should do everything much more slowly and, for example, travel on sailing ships.” He also doesn't have a real solution for this contradiction.


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Reforestation of the rainforest as a target

Joe is committed to afforestation for the climate protection of the original rainforest. In New Zealand, 80% of them have disappeared - they were cut down for building houses or ships, for example, or simply burned down to make room for pastureland.

The problem is that the original rainforest grows very slowly and needs about 1.000 year, Joe tells me as we drive through seemingly endless North American coniferous forests that have been planted for wood production because they grow faster.

Maximum nature experience in the Busch-Camp

Together with members of his tribe, the Manager by Te Urewera Treks, a bush camp in which guests spend the night in tents with sleeping bags on air mattresses and camp beds. Joe deliberately did without more comfort in the Busch-Camp in order to offer the visitors a maximum experience of nature.

Therefore, there is also a compost-toilet, but surprisingly warm showers, which is good, because the next in the New Zealand rainforest can also be very cold in April, the late summer, and temperatures around the 0 degrees.

Hot shower, soon with green electricity

The power for the shower, says Joe, is currently being generated by a generator. For the future, however, he plans to generate electricity from hydroelectric power.

The Pelton turbine. which he wants to use, contains all the elements of a particular washing machine. Joe has suggestions for this http://www.ecoinnovation.co.nz.

Electricity win with old washing machines

His tribe already uses the technology in their houses, Joe tells me: The water coming from the mountain drives up old washing machines and thus generates electricity in an environmentally friendly way.

“The indigenous people have the solution for so many problems,” Joe explains to me. Our twenty-six-year-old guide Wiremu Nuku, for example, is so knowledgeable that he could survive in the wild on his own.

Foundation for the rescue of the rainforest

To promote afforestation for climate protection in the rainforest, Joe founded the Rainforest Restoration Trust together with the Dutch travel company Travel Essence. Urewera National Park is home to some of New Zealand's oldest tree species, covering an area of ​​212,600 hectares.

On the one hand, it aims to create jobs for the Maori who are concerned with afforestation, and on the other, through the project, tourists have the opportunity to plant trees themselves - a trend that the public has repeatedly come up with through the so-called Tree Protester movement is moved, as Joe tells me.

How to plant Maori-style trees?

The tree planting is carried out according to a fixed ceremony: first a small hole is lifted with the spade. Then the small plant is placed. Then earth is dug thereon, and water is given to it.

They are usually planted with Rimu, Totara, Matai and Neuseland beeches. My three saplings are Totara. They look very small and fragile and could be 1.000 meters in 40 years.

During the planting, we solemnly say the words “E tipu, e toro, e tu”, which in the Maori language means “grow, expand and stand”. Everyone plants at least three trees: one for themselves, one for the others who were not so lucky and one to give something back to nature.

If the past is the future

For the future, Joe is planning a virtual forest on the Internet: "If you can't travel here, you can plant trees from all over the world," he explains his idea.

There is also a philosophical background to this: "We should orient ourselves to traditions and the past in order to look into the future," reports Joe. Fittingly, both are the same word in the Maori language, "Mja".

The tribal culture is always there

That is why tribal culture also plays a major role on all hikes: "We tell our guests about the tribe and its history and see nature through the eyes of the tribe," explains Joe. Each Maori tribe is assigned to a river, mountain or lake. "In this way we want to get people to live more sustainably and thus bring about ecological change."

The Tūhoe are the only Maori tribe that did not sign the Treaty of Waitangi, which governed the relationship between Maori the White 1840. Currently, they have 90.000 ha forest under their administration, 270.000 more ha demand them from the government back.

Realistic view without transfiguration

But Joe does not gloss over the way of life of his tribe: his wife Joanna comes from England, the two lead a multicultural life and travel many.

Nevertheless, the two of them spent a long time living in the mountains in Te Urewera Park. As they wanted to give their children a better education, they finally moved closer to the town of Roturura, even though there is a school in the mountains. The social situation of the Maori as well as their education see the two rather critically. Many tribes, says Joanne, had almost lost their culture and would therefore have to demonstrate them all the more outwardly.

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2 responses to “job profile! Social Entrepreneur: Eco-Tourism in New Zealand - Business Plan in the Rainforest ”

  1. Sven Menterich says:

    This is probably only possible in New Zealand.

  2. Maria A. says:

    Great post, keep it up.

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