Kotahi Tourism has been awarded ‘Best Local Experience – NSW’ in the 2019 Travel & Hospitality Awards!
“Travel and Hospitality Awards are a recognition of the hard work and accomplishments across the travel industry.”
We met with journalist Zoe Cartwright at Lake Conjola to talk about the award, Kotahi Tourism and our 2 local experiences – Conjola Tours (eco-tours) on the NSW South Coast, and Poihākena tours: stories of Māori in Sydney.
Photo: Kotahi Tourism Director Hohepa Ruhe with journalist Zoe Cartwright at Lake Conjola, NSW South Coast.
Here’s a link to Zoe’s article in the Milton Ulladulla Times: Māori hospitality fosters South Coast tourism success
Copy of the article below (with macrons added) for those of you who can’t access the link.
Māori hospitality fosters South Coast tourism success
A Lake Conjola business has been awarded ‘Best local experience in NSW’ at the 2019 Travel and Hospitality Awards.
Kiwis with a passion for history, Melinda Loe and Hohepa Ruhe made the move to Fishermans Paradise when they found it increasingly difficult to leave their holiday home and head back to Sydney.
They were about to turn 50, and hoped to fulfill a lifelong dream of starting their own business.
With a background working in museums in both New Zealand and Australia, the dynamic duo decided to let their love of storytelling shine.
Their business – Kotahi Tourism – unites their passion for culture, history and the environment, providing guided tours in Sydney, Lake Conjola and Narooma.
At Lake Conjola, they provide walking tours that explore the built and natural history of the area.
Kotahi means to be united, or to be one, in the Māori language. “The philosophy behind our tourism and education business is to connect people with the natural environment and cultural heritage,” Ms Loe said.
“A lot of our visitors come from New Zealand, and we wanted them to connect with Aboriginal culture as well, so they can book cultural tours run by Aboriginal people through Kotahi Tourism as well.
“Combining tourism and education helps small business be more sustainable.” Endangered birds, kangaroos, and the odd shark are just some of the local treasures they enjoy sharing.
Mr Ruhe has also researched the 226-year history of Māori in Australia, which forms the backbone of their Sydney tours.
“When I found solid information about our arrival in 1793, my historic bubble burst,” he said.
“I thought we all turned up with the Māori show bands in the 1950s and 60s.
“It was the first trade relationship after colony, and the first official visitors to come [to Australia] after colony were Māori.”
Later, in 1888, the predominantly Māori ‘New Zealand Native’ football side toured Australia and thrashed NSW in several matches.
Although the Lake Conjola tours don’t include Māori history, they are infused with manaakitanga – the Māori word for hospitality.
“It underpins everything we do – there is no point offering an experience if people aren’t taken care of,” Mr Ruhe said.
Tour bookings and more information: https://www.kotahitourism.com/