How did we end up in hospitality is a question we often ask ourselves. You could say we arrived here by default. Thirty years ago we were living in Wellington with two kids under the age of three and a third baby on the way. I was pretty desperate for whanau support and the decision to move back to Gisborne beside my family was an easy one. Unfortunately the country was going through a recession so jobs in Gisborne were very hard to secure. We had to look at something totally different and purchasing a business appeared to be that something. Luckily for us, this wonderful place by the sea became available so we went for it and returned home to Gisborne.
It was great to come home. I was raised in Mangatu, a small village about 50km in land. Both my parents were staunch marae people so it was a natural progression for me to be involved as well. You learn very quickly about the roles and responsibilities, tikanga (customs) and kawa (protocols and etiquette) that occur on the marae. When I look back at that part of my life, I contemplate and wonder; who would have thought that my training on the marae would come in handy in the hospitality industry.
All marae activity is underpinned by manaakitanga, the Maori word for hospitality. The marae is the place where most community ceremonies are held, weddings, tangi (funerals), and birthdays, church and, meetings so it becomes the main gathering place of people. The responsibility of the tangata whenua (home people) is to look after their manuhiri (visitors) and so looking after people and being careful about how people are treated is of prime importance. At the core of manaakitanga is acknowledging that the mana (power) of visitors is of equal or greater importance than your own through the expression of aroha. The word aroha means love. Aroha, albeit a relatively small word, has a powerful meaning that offers a profound message of love and connection and inspires tangata whenua to go that extra mile.
I think that going the extra mile and genuinely caring for visitors is at the crux of good hospitality. It’s about services and the people delivering it. This is one of our core values here at Accommodation Ahi Kaa. We want to ensure the comfort and care of our guests is of primary concern. Manaakitanga establishes our responsibilities as hosts and implies guardianship of our manuhiri. It requires from us as Tangata whenua to deliver our very best – it demands excellence.
Kia ora. My name is Katie Tamanui-Thomas and my husband is Les Thomas. We are the owners and operators of Accommodation Ahi Kaa. It would be our privilege to host you and to manaaki you next time you visit our beautiful part of the world.