E kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Ladies and gentlemen warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Lisa Cornelissen and Fergus Brown, President and Chief Executive respectively of the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand; Brian Gibbons, Chief Executive of the Automobile Association of NZ; Chris Roberts, Chief Executive of the Tourism Association of NZ; past presidents and life members of the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for your welcome. It’s a pleasure to be here to open your annual conference on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Holiday Park Association of New Zealand.
Apart from the significant anniversary, you may be wondering why I am here today to open your Conference today. Simply put, it’s because a friend asked me to open your conference – proving that in New Zealand it’s not only what you know but who you know!
What I do know is that nowhere else in the world can you find such choice and scenic variety in affordable holiday accommodation, than here in New Zealand.
What I do know is that camping with our families is a great New Zealand tradition. It’s something we all look back on fondly, particularly our childhood memories of what seemed like endless hot summer days and adventure. So, long may this wonderful tradition continue.
The 60th anniversary of your association is an important milestone. Anniversaries are a time to reflect on those things that are important – on what’s gone before, and on what lies ahead.
Much has changed in New Zealand over the past sixty years. In 1955, our population was around 2.1 million. And I was one!
In 2015, we’ve more than doubled that and we have an incredibly diverse and multi-cultural population. And sometimes I wish I were one!
Sixty years ago, there were no regular television broadcasts and radio was under state control. My parents paid an annual licence fee of just over £1, and Bill Haley and the Comet’s “Rock Around the Clock” was ruling the airwaves. Today, we are spoilt for choice by all the platforms that we can use to access music about and how we buy our entertainment in the home – radio, television, You Tube and the internet. Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s Lean On is number one this week!
It’s extraordinary to think that sixty years ago, most New Zealand businesses shut at 5pm on weeknights and were closed for the weekend.
Flying was still a novelty. By 1959 there were three return flights a day between Auckland and Christchurch via Wellington. An OE mostly entailed travelling by ship to the United Kingdom. A flight to London via Sydney took between three to five days. Today the longest direct journey to the United Kingdom takes little more than 24 hours.
I could go on, describing the economic, social and cultural change our country has seen during those years – especially since most of us here today are too young to remember all of it.
What has remained the same in New Zealand – despite our ever-increasingly paced, complex and busy lives – is the sanctity of quality-time with family and friends, especially during our annual leave and public holidays.
The Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand, and the more than 400 Holiday Parks throughout this country, remains an important and fundamental part of our Kiwi culture and holiday experience. When we want to spend time with our family and friends, to leave behind busy schedules, to get out of the house and make life simpler for a brief period of time; holiday parks provide a fantastic option.
Clearly, international tourists, with 41 percent of your visitors coming from overseas, feel the same way about the quality of Holiday Park experiences.
With the number of Holiday Parks on the rise, I also want to acknowledge the important contribution your individual holiday parks make to local communities and businesses. The near $1 billion annual contribution to New Zealand’s economy is a significant economic benefit to our tourism industry.
My being here today is for more than a 60th anniversary or the request of a friend. I’m here because the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand promotes something that is important to New Zealanders - access to our heritage – the land and sea – access to an affordable holiday for our families now and into the future.
The statistics suggest Holiday Parks Association members know their business. This conference, and its theme “Lead to Succeed”, is about you, individually and collectively, ensuring that people - in your teams, your guests, in your local communities and in the hospitality industry more generally know you as leaders. Being leaders in your business is about you getting out and leading. Leaders lead and leaders share.
I will conclude by quoting one of your members: “Becoming a member of HAPNZ was the best decision we made after buying our Holiday Park. We enjoy attending the conferences and socializing with other park operators. The depth of knowledge and generosity in sharing ideas from more experienced members is invaluable, plus we always leave with an injection of enthusiasm. It is also comforting to know that HAPNZ is only a phone call away if we need advice or assistance with submissions, legal opinions or even suppliers” - Rakaia River Holiday Park. This conference is your chance to plan for the future and to network, share ideas.
I wish you all the best for a stimulating, informative and enjoyable conference so you can return to your Parks reinvigorated and with renewed enthusiasm to provide leadership and manaakitanga to your guests.
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.