Eruption of the White Island: $ 4.5 million in possible annual gross income from Rūnuga tourism activity

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Images of a Navy helicopter and boat involved in a body recovery mission to White Island. Video / One News

Te Rūnunga o Ngāti Awa could have earned $ 4.5 million gross per year from his visits to the White Island, helping to increase rūnunga’s annual income of $ 13.1 million for the last fiscal year.

Ngāti Awa’s annual report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019 showed that the group’s revenue increased by $ 100,000 last year and that it reported group assets of 149.8 million. dollars, down slightly from $ 150 million last year.

Although income from tourism is not broken down into the accounts, Ngāti Awa Group Holdings chairman Paul Quinn said this week that it has 17,500 clients per year. White Island Tours announced until Monday ticket prices of $ 229 / adult through next March and $ 130 / child, although Ovation of the Seas cruise ship passengers paid just under $ 500 / each. as adults to buy the tour.

Their ship was docked in Tauranga, so their price included transportation to and from Whakatane to embark on White Island Tours.

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These figures give a possible annual gross income of $ 4.5 million, but the company has made huge capital expenditures in the last period, having purchased a new 19 million 49 passenger ship designed by Teknicraft at Auckland and built by Q-West in Whanganui.

White Island Tours was incorporated in 2005 and its directors are Debbie Birch of Wellington, Anthony Edward De Farias of Ohope and Bernard Paul Quinn of Metropolis Apartments in Auckland, according to the Companies Office.

The travel agency is 100% owned by Ngāti Awa Group Holdings of Whakatane.

The company only got the new catamaran in April of this year.  Photo / File
The company only got the new catamaran in April of this year. Photo / File

The last annual report contained a page on Te Puia Whakaari, the new catamaran he had built to be less affected by inclement weather during volcanic tours. This boat took 12 months to design and build and was delivered in April, according to the report.

Quinn wrote in his President’s report for his year: “There has been a substantial improvement in the performance of the Whakaari / White Island Tours business during the reporting period, so on a financial basis we achieved a small profit on this investment.

“In April, we took delivery of our new vessel and we are delighted to be able to report that it has lived up to expectations. This includes the ability to sail more days in a month due to the weather tolerant capability greater than the existing fleet. “

The company planned to replace its entire fleet by copying the new catamaran.

Today in Whakatane at dawn.  Photo / Alan Gibson
Today in Whakatane at dawn. Photo / Alan Gibson

“As the remaining fleet reaches the end of its useful life, we are proposing to standardize the fleet to the Te Puia Whakaari model. This will lead to a number of efficiencies with the company, including a stock of spare parts.” , wrote Quinn.

In line with tangata whenua’s aspirations, the company said it was happy to report that 25 percent of the staff employed by the travel company were Ngāti Awa, compared to a base of 5 percent at the time of purchase. Of the boat.

The annual report also covered the company’s landing license, saying it was exclusive and had an ultimate useful life. Under depreciation, the report indicates “Whakaari / White Island Landing License 18 years”.

The landing permit was also mentioned as part of the company’s goodwill.

“Goodwill arose with the purchase of White Island Tours,” the report says, referring to the 2017 purchase of the company from former owners Peter and Jenny Tait.

Whakaari / White Island was privately owned and “legally its status is that of a private reserve,” the report says, without specifically mentioning the Auckland Buttle family who own the island by the company.

Beverley Buttle told the Herald this week that she received income because the tour operator paid a royalty to the family business to visit it and she received a share of it.

“They pay me a retainer,” said Buttle.

White Island Monday.  Photo / White Island Flights
White Island Monday. Photo / White Island Flights

The family planned to keep the island and Buttle cited a number of grandchildren.

“It will stay in the family. It is very unusual to own a volcano. People have always found it fascinating to visit it,” she said.

A man from Whakatane claimed the Buttles were paid around 49% of ticket revenue, but neither the company nor the Buttles have confirmed this.

“Jenny Tait once told me that the Buttles were taking 49% of the ticket purchase price. This, added to the number of cancellations due to bad weather, would make the business very difficult to operate successfully and explain why the price of the ticket has more than doubled in the last 10 to 15 years, ”said the ‘man.

“Ngāti Awa, and indeed Whakatane, have a lot to lose if access to the island is further restricted,” he said. The travel company’s 2017 selling price was never disclosed, but the man said it was around $ 10.5 million.

And in what may now seem ironic, White Island Tours cited its commitment to the health and safety of all of its staff and customers.

The report underscored the company’s focus on safety.

“We place great importance on ensuring that all of our employees, contractors and visitors get home safely every day. This property has seen our visits to Whakaari / White Island and a broader management team receiving the Safe365 2018 Safest Place to Word Award for Small Businesses with 50 Employees or below, ”the report states.


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