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Creating mighty ambassadors

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As we continue to see growing numbers of international travellers back in our region as well as our domestic visitors it’s important that we, as a sector, ensure their experience here is as welcoming and enriching as possible.

It was with this thinking in mind that we developed our Waikato Ambassador programme back in 2019, with the first edition being Kirikiriroa Hamilton. Thanks to central government funding during Covid, we have also been able to build on the success of this programme and complete our editions for the Waikato, Waipā, Ōtorohanga-Waitomo and Matamata-Piako districts, which we are very excited to be launching in February.

The Ambassador Programme is designed for anyone engaging with visitors who come to the Waikato. The purpose is to help create storytellers and ambassadors who can connect with people and authentically engage with what all New Zealanders understand as ‘manaakitanga’ and ‘kaitiakitanga’.

The programme helps to build pride and knowledge of the history, special places and people of our region to proudly share with manuhiri; to extend an understanding of what it takes to authentically connect with visitors from all around the world, to contribute to the ongoing and future success of the region by providing simple tools to enhance customer service and create memorable visitor experiences right across the mighty Waikato region.

Participants engage in a three-hour workshop delving into the history and unique stories which shaped the region – the Waikato River, including early Māori history and legends, the experience of early explorers and European settlers, the Waikato land wars, right through to the exciting regional growth and economy of today.

Each of the editions have been developed in collaboration with their respective councils, community groups and individuals and feature the special stories, places and people of each specific city/district.

The programme is open to everyone – from hospitality, retail and event staff and volunteers or those working in accommodation, activities, and transport such as taxis or ubers. Thanks to the Covid recovery funding we received from central government it is free to attend until 30 June. From 1 July a small fee of $30 + GST per person will be introduced to cover operational costs.

So as business leaders in our community we encourage you to take up the opportunity for yourself and your co-workers or team members to become Ambassadors and help us showcase this amazing place we all call home.

This will also help to ensure we are all visitor ready for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 tournament and matches being played in Kirirkiriroa in just a few months’ time and enhance our manuhiri’s experiences within our region so that they return home and share the stories and manaakitanga of the mighty Waikato.

Visit waikatonz.com/ambassador for more information.

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About Author

Nicola Greenwell

Interim General Manager, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism