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New i-Site co-ordinator

Rubyanne Edwards

Wairoa’s hospitality and generosity is what sets it apart from other areas according to new i-Site coordinator Rubyanne Edwards.

With more than 4000 tourism inquiries a year managing Wairoa’s i-Site is a challenging role, but one made easier by the manaaki that flows through the district.

Ms Edwards has a background in social work and administration although says when she first left Wairoa College she had been interested in a career in tourism.

The Mum of four is Wairoa born and bred and began at the i-Site a year ago starting in a part time capacity and building into the full-time role.

“My main focus is building relationships with stakeholders and tourist operators.

“We are a big district and I am trying to visit as many of the operators as I can so when I am promoting their business, I have actually experienced it.

Ms Edwards and her partner Quintin Down returned to Wairoa around 12 years ago.

“I had spent 20 years working as a social worker, including with Kahungunu Executive and I needed a change, so this position was ideal.

“My aim is to put Wairoa on the map, so people stop here and look around and not just pass through.

“It’s about making us the hub for the destination. That involves working together with different iwi and communities to find out what everyone wants and then making it happen.

“Our manaaki is in our blood and we need to showcase that, it’s our point of difference.”

Ms Edwards is also planning a promotional evening to meet the creators behind the local products sold from the i-Site.

“It’s really about whakawhanungatanga, getting to know everyone and working together.”

Council’s Group Manager of Community and Engagement Kitea Tipuna said the new vision for the Wairoa i-Site is about ‘getting back to basics.’

“We know what we’re good at and it’s about being the best at being us, being Wairoa.

“We are known for our hospitality and we want to make sure we are clear in our minds about this vision.

“Going back to basics, manaaki manuhiri, manaaki whenua, manaaki awa, manaaki moana. Looking after our visitors, our land, our rivers and sea.

“We’re between Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne and there are some great events happening throughout our region and because of our location, we get a lot of through traffic with visitors stopping into Wairoa.

“We’re also actively looking to host events ourselves.

“We’ve recently hosted the Ross Shield rugby tournament and the Ngati Kahungunu Regional Kapa Haka competitions which bought around 5,000 visitors into the district and an approximate spend of $112,000 into our local economy.

“These opportunities are great for promoting our district and bringing benefits to our local economy. We’re looking to do more of this.

“We want to actively promote our district, but we also need to balance this against ensuring visitors understand what it means to be a visitor to our district too.”

17 October 2019

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