We sat down with one of TRCs newest team member, Kylie Ruwhiu-Karawana, and had a chat about her background and her life in Dunedin.
Hey Kylie. Tell us about your relationship with Dunedin?
Kia ora! Dunedin is home for me, but only in terms of the fact that my family now live here. In fact, my husband and our two kids live in our own urban marae style home with my mother, my two sisters and my brother-in-law and two dogs. I am of Ngā Puhi descent so whakapapa back to Te Taitokerau, north of Auckland, but Dunedin is home.
Can you tell us about your role with TRC Tourism and what that involves?
I am a Māori Tourism specialist and Consultant with TRC Tourism. It involves working with clients from all around New Zealand helping groups, communities, councils, iwi and hapū make the most of their tourism business or the opportunities they are exploring.
When did you first become interested in tourism and what made you decide to get involved in Maori Tourism?
I have been involved in the tourism industry since I started one of my earliest jobs as a retail assistant in a souvenir store here in Dunedin in the late 90s. It is an industry that has seen me travel the world selling New Zealand as a destination, work with operators to create sustainable economic pathways for themselves and their business and now running our own family owned and operated tourism experience in Dunedin. I got involved in Māori tourism when I was appointed the inaugural Māori Tourism Graduate for Tourism New Zealand when I returned from working in Japan for three years in 2001. There is so much that Māori can offer an industry like Tourism, but there are infinite benefits for Māori cultural communities when embracing tourism as an economic enabler. It’s a definite win-win.
What are some expertise you bring to the TRC team?
I have been in tourism for many years, both in the private and public sector. I have run multi-million-dollar tourism experiences, and have recently embarked on setting up and running a small family owned tourism business in Dunedin. I have a lot of experience in stakeholder relationship management, iwi consultation, destination marketing, visitor experience development, and working with organisations to develop robust business plans and feasibility studies.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Working with clients to develop robust and bespoke solutions that will assist them in making the most out of an industry that I think the world of. I like knowing that I might have some knowledge and experience that could help.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Outside of working with TRC Tourism, I am most passionate about my family. Spending time with my children and the village of whanau, family, who live with us bringing a true meaning to the term it takes a village to raise a child! That time usually revolves around cooking, and most definitely features my mums cooking.