Ngāi Tahu flying to new business heights with Air NZ

By Hana Mereraiha, Tamati Tiananga

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu are flying to new business heights, this afternoon the South Island Iwi and Air New Zealand have signed a future-focused, strategic relationship agreement aimed at boosting economic growth in Te Waipounamu.

Ngāi Tahu Chief Executive Officer Arihia Bennett says, “The relationship with Ngāi Tahu is significant for not only for the cultural, economic ans social values, but also the environmental values that we can bring to the relationship.”

The agreement signed today at Air New Zealand’s head office in Tāmaki Makaurau includes:

  • Air New Zealand and Ngāi Tahu will develop a regional engagement strategy for the Ngāi Tahu takiwā and identify ways to drive sustainable visitor growth.
  • Air New Zealand will promote Ngāi Tahu and Takiwa tourism experiences through its marketing channels and integrate these into visitor strategies.
  • Air New Zealand and Ngāi Tahu will create a talent and skill sharing programme, with a focus on aviation engineering, innovation and research from Air New Zealand and cultural confidence and engagement from Ngāi Tahu.
  • Air New Zealand will support the primary products of the iwi in its own environments and supply chain where possible.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says, "The more we can tell a cultural story the more we can tell a province story around were our products and good come from and that's really fantastic.” 

Ngāi Tahu becomes the second Iwi to build a relationship with the airline. In 2018 Air New Zealand announced its partnership with Ngāti Porou. The agreement partnership looks to deliver meaningful outcomes for the iwi and airline.  


Haea Te Awa Programme Lead Julian Wilcox welcomes the new relationship that will see positive outcomes to its commercial and tribal arm, “We look to strengthen our relationships like this for the betterment of the future generation of the Ngāi Tahu people.”      

Ngāi Tahu has been an important partner for Air New Zealand for several years and played a key role in the launch of Air New Zealand's new direct jet service from Auckland to Invercargill last month.

Luxon says, “Our organisations share common values and a long-term strategic view of sustainable development and I’m confident we can collectively boost the future of the Ngāi Tahu takiwā.”