The Mārahau Pledge represents a collective of family-owned tourism businesses in Mārahau, Aotearoa New Zealand, committed to regenerative tourism practices. The project responded to the need for more sustainable tourism, addressing carbon reduction and strengthening sustainability practices among the operators.
Tourism was struggling with social licence issues and wanted to do more around sustainability and carbon reduction in particular.
The Mārahau tourism sector is made up of small entirely family owned operations, none of whom are big enough to resource national campaigns or work in this space.
The operators were all working individually on their sustainability efforts and that knowledge wasn’t being widely shared or utilised. It was inefficient and ineffective.
We wanted to position Mārahau in a way that also attracts the right visitors to the place and addresses local community concerns about tourism impacts.
We needed a sustainable way of funding this and making it happen collectively.
We formed an initiative called the “Mārahau Pledge” which was a commitment to regenerative tourism in Mārahau and had three core tenants:
Every business must commit to zero-carbon operations
Every business must openly share knowledge around sustainability
Every business must charge a new fee as part of their wider
Environmental Access Fee, that created a fund for biodiversity outcomes in Mārahau
We created a recognisable brand language that didn’t compete with the businesses brands but complemented it, without creating “another brand mark” for verification and instead creating a more flexible framework that allowed businesses to tell the story in a variety of ways.
We brought the operators together under an independent entity and formed a decision-making practice that was informed by local community needs and desires.
We produced resources and collateral for the businesses to use and launched the Mārahau Pledge, attracting national and international media attention.
Mārahau is now a New Zealand leader in regenerative tourism.
The operators have now made an enduring commitment to funding biodiversity outcomes in Mārahau and the pledge is now growing to include accommodation businesses.
Mārahau is the first and only destination where every experience is certified zero-carbon in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Investments are now being made in pest trapping, wetlands restoration and infrastructure such as signage, bike racks and walking tracks.
The fund is now attracting co-funding due to the operator commitments and this investment is now being leveraged.
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