In keeping with the burgeoning–and some would say, worrying—trend for the Department of Conservation to align itself with corporate benefactors (as outlined in a story about 'Conservation for Prosperity' in a recent issue of North & South), and in keeping with Air New Zealand's environmental push, the national airline has signed up for a three year partnership with DoC worth the equivalent of $1 million annually.
The deal means Air New Zealand will offer travel and marketing support for new conservation programmes around the National Parks Great Walks network, as well as species translocations around the country and promotion of the Great Walks themselves.
Air New Zealand’s sole major sponsorship of the Great Walks network incorporates nine of New Zealand’s finest tracks: Rakiura, Kepler, Milford, Routeburn, Heaphy, Abel Tasman Coast, Whanganui River Journey, Tongariro and Lake Waikaremoana. And its marketing plans include development of flight and hut packages and high-end group experiences on conservation land, promotion through its million-strong frequent flyer database and significant local and international marketing and social media activity.
Air New Zealand chief executive Officer Rob Fyfe also revealed plans for a global competition labelled “The Great Walker” which will launch in two months, giving one person from anywhere on the planet the opportunity to come to New Zealand and take on the challenge of completing all nine Great Walks in nine weeks.
The airline plans to launch the search through its significant global social media and marketing channels and have the winner share their experiences through the same channels.
“The establishment of the Great Walks Biodiversity Partnership and the Air New Zealand Translocation Programme will see our two organisations come together to enhance and promote the sorts of things that make New Zealand unique,” says Fyfe. “It will enable important conservation biodiversity projects to take place in the vicinity of the Great Walks and also help promote these gems in New Zealand’s natural tourism crown to domestic and international tourists like never before.”
The agreement will also see Air New Zealand using its national network to transport threatened species (birds, reptiles and invertebrates) to safe new breeding sites around the country as part of DOC’s active recovery programmes.
“There are approximately 200 transfers each year of threatened wildlife and just this past week Air New Zealand helped fly eight flightless kakapo from Invercargill through Christchurch to Auckland en route to their new sanctuary on Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf,” says DoC director-general Al Morrison. “This is a natural partnership with a forward-thinking company that sees the real value of conservation. Air New Zealand understands that looking after the things that make New Zealand unique is good for their business. Whether it is help transporting threatened species or getting more people out experiencing the value of our National Parks, Air New Zealand will be investing in its own future as well as New Zealand’s."
The partnership represents an important expansion of the airline’s environmental strategy, Fyfe says, and it's in line with the likes of BNZ sponsoring kiwi, Genesis Energy sponsoring the whio, Mitre 10 sponsoring the takahe trust, Meridian sponsoring the Living Legends treeplanting scheme and many other regional partners in an effort to help/ramp up their corporate social responsibility initiatives.
“This exciting opportunity builds on our ongoing focus on reducing our environmental footprint and engaging with, promoting and protecting New Zealand’s natural assets through the likes of the Air New Zealand Environment Trust, Kids Restore New Zealand and the efforts or our 3,000 strong employee Green Team.”