The holiday park was purchased by Ian and Vicki Smith last month.
"We’ve admired the iconic park for years and jumped at the opportunity when it came along,” says Smith.
"We want to elevate Ōhope Beach’s proposition and build on the destination’s fantastic reputation.”
“We have so many opportunities to work with locals – and especially tangata whenua – to feed benefits back into the community including through employment. I encourage those passionate about tourism to get in touch,” says Smith.
William Stewart, spokesperson for Ōhope and Whakatāne based Ngāti Awa hapū Ngāti Hokopū, says Smith’s proactive efforts to engage the hapū in early and meaningful consultation were appreciated and have resulted in positive early discussions.
“We’re encouraged by Mr Smith’s commitment to building meaningful relationships with our hapū and look forward to working collaboratively with him and his whānau to advance outcomes that will ultimately benefit manuhiri, tangata whenua, local communities and the taiao.”
Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne says she supports the direction Smith is taking.
“Ian is an exemplary tourism operator and brings experience and a history of success to the park. We’ll work closely with Ian and his team to attract the type and quantity of visitors the community want to welcome,” says Dunne.
Smith plans to undertake a full survey of the significant features and history of the site.
“From this knowledge, we will work with our guests, staff, iwi, hapū and the community to determine what we want the park to look like in ten years. Collaboration and working together – mahi tahi – are key to success,” says Smith.
“Ōhope Beach is proudly a family-friendly destination and we have so much on our doorstep – the best beach in Aotearoa and the country’s highest sunshine hours, to name a few. We will celebrate these attributes and share the rich history of the area in amongst the beautiful setting.
“In the development pipeline is a permanent outdoor movie screen for families and other facilities which enable the sense of community holiday parks are known for.”
Ultimately, we want to build on the success of the business and continue to facilitate magical memories for families throughout Aotearoa,” says Smith.
Smith says that they are currently exploring opportunities to work collaboratively with Ngāti Awa iwi and hapū. The park land is leased by Whakatāne iwi Ngāti Awa to the holiday park.
“We want to work with Ngāti Awa to explore how we can collaborate to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes, such as training, employment, the promotion of traditions and culture, and environmental regeneration,” says Smith.
The Smiths are holiday park stalwarts, having been in the industry for 25 years. The business will be a family affair with Ian and Vicki’s daughter and son-in-law, Aimee and Cormac O’Keeffe, recently returned from Ireland and keen to learn the ropes of holiday park management.
The Smiths ran the Waihī Beach TOP 10 Holiday Resort for 25 years until its recent sale to Tasman Tourism New Zealand.
Smith has also been chair of TOP 10 Holiday Parks New Zealand for the past five years and has previously chaired the Waihī Beach Progressive Association (now Waihī Beach Events) and Tourism Bay of Plenty.