‘We spent years organising trips for New Zealand students as teachers before we decided to move into the tourism space,’ says Meade. ‘It’s something we are both really passionate about, so to be able to turn that passion into a career and share that passion with students is really cool.’ The adventure tour side of things encompasses bespoke itineraries, whereby Manaaki works with the international school groups to decide what works best with them. ‘We give them an idea and examples and then work with them to piece it all together. It’s customised to suit so depending on time and budget we can do whatever,’ explains Meade.
As well as adventurous activities like hiking, luging and rafting, groups also get to experience Maori culture too. ‘We head to Hemi’s marae in Whakatane where they eat, sleep, learn waiata and haka and also visit a local school. It’s a full immersion experience and we try to intertwine as much tikanga and Maori practice throughout the tours as possible,’ he explains. Manaaki also organizes group rugby tours (for rugby teams of any age) to New Zealand, aligning with partners like Crusaders rugby to help make it all possible. ‘The rugby tours idea came from an inquiry, we saw a gap in the market and it all basically just built up from there,’ says Meade. The tours incorporate things like specialised coaching, strength and conditioning, rugby games, nutrition and some Maori culture too.
– Sam Worthington