Kaitiaki Adventures is an adventure tourism company based in Rotorua. It specialises in white-water rafting on the Okere section of the Kaituna River. It also leads guided hiking expeditions of Mount Tarawera. All activities have a strong cultural focus.
Kaitiaki Adventures is Māori owned and operated. Its primary focus is on community development, environmental sustainability and Māori cultural sustainability. The company prides itself on exceptional community engagement and contribution. Māori values have underpinned the company’s approach since being founded 20 years ago.
The company relies heavily on international tourism, and lost 90% of revenue when Covid struck. Despite this, with use of the government wage subsidy it has retained 95% of staff, re-deploying them to environmental projects and rotating them in and out of core tourism work.
Kaitiaki Adventures has created a new product – an environmentally-friendly water catcher designed to enable whānau to observe tikanga in wahi tapu – whānau urupā. This is an innovative Māori-focused product designed for areas where water access is not possible. The water catchers are hand-made and created to allow whānau to wash their hands after visiting urupā, which is an essential part of the removal of tapu.
Many Māori whānau have had to take bottles of water (often made of plastic) in order to observe correct protocol during tangi. Instead, rainwater is collected off the roof and flows into holding tanks, where it stays until needed. Each water catcher and dispensary station is designed and created for a specific urupā and individual community.
As the catchment system is designed to be self-filling and reusable, it reduces the need to bring disposable plastic bottles.
Kaitiaki Adventures staff construct and deliver the water catchers. As a result of the project, staff now have new skill sets, including carpentry, plumbing and construction.