John Panoho
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John is in the tourism business and has a passionate commitment to the future of Maori participation at all levels of the visitor industry. His tribal affiliations are Parawhau, Te Uri Roroi, Ngati Whatua, ko Ngai Tawake ki te Moana, Te honihoni na Ngapuhi Nui Tonu.

Over the past 28 years he has worked steadily to turn the concept of cultural tourism into a business reality, dynamic and underpinned by authentic and sustainable experiences and engagement with Maori. Along the way he has helped build and run successful travel, transport and in-bound tourism businesses and created, developed and operated unique cultural attractions.

His “Nature, Culture, People and Place” concepts in products wove together the stories and lifestyles of ordinary New Zealanders and the uniqueness of Maori cultural landscapes.
This set the platform for the development of eco-cultural and geo-tourism ideals that have underpinned all future direction and initiatives.

In recent years he has worked across the broad spectrum of the tourism industry promoting Maori-values based indigenous tourism experiences. He has introduced Maori cultural experiences to the luxury and super luxury markets and has steadily built relationships with his offer of bespoke guiding services and exclusive networks of special people and places.

Realising that the Marae and Waka are pivotal to understanding and experiencing the culture of Maori he has forged strong relationships with an urban/working Marae community and the wider Waka fraternity. He is the nephew of Ngahiraka Busby, the late wife of renowned wayfinder/navigator, waka builder and tohunga whakairo, Hekenukumai Busby (NZOM, MBE, PWOMN) and has been closely involved with the development of the Kupe Waka Centre in Aurere where a traditional navigational school is being developed.

Over several years John and his colleagues have created and delivered Maori values based leadership, team building and cultural competency programs in New Zealand and internationally. A chance meeting with his friend Chellie Spiller as she was beginning her journey to being awarded her Phd helped bring clarity to these leadership programs. As they spent time together he drew inspiration from her research into the nuances and complexity of wellbeing in business based on Maori holistic values.

Another game-changer came when he met Hoturoa Barclay Kerr. Looking at ways of creating a sustainable future for his Waka Haunui, Hotu was open to the idea that the visitor industry could provide a financial platform that would allow a multitude of other programs to prosper.

For john his vision is that the iconic Waka Horua will be synonymous with Tamaki Makarau – Auckland city of sails. The waka is after all at the heart of our culture and embodys the whakapapa of our city. And equally important it will be a physical presence and a striking metaphor in the wayfinding and leadership programs. This background work underpins WAKAQUEST and the visitor products that have been created. The first cultural experience to be delivered is “Waka on the Waitemata” and secures our relationship with Voyager Maritime Museum.