We’re a small business, operating in a really precious environment, both ecologically and socially. It’s rare to have visitors to our village not comment on the natural beauty of the place and sense of peace and community of the village itself. So we feel we have a tremendous responsibility to do everything we can to support that, without changing the very thing that we and our visitors appreciate so much about our area.
‘Sustainable’ is a fashionable and often used word, but it basically sums up what we want our small business and place in the world to be. We really want our impact here at Okarito Kayaks to be positive to our natural environment and social surrounds. The opportunity we have to enable visitors to experience, learn about, and therefore value, the fantastic wetlands and forests at our doorstep, without damaging in any way the places they are exploring, is the main reason we operate this business. Alongside that focus on the natural environment, our activity has the chance to provide local employment, a social resource or hub for the young families in the village, support for local businesses through our commercial activity, and to strengthen and protect the social aspects of the community in which we live. There are easier places both to live and make money, but we’ve chosen this place because we feel a deep connection to the values and environment here. Our primary focus should therefore be on protecting and enhancing what it is we loved about the place enough to choose it as home.
Of course, it’s easy enough just to make broad statements like this without backing them up through our actions. So, the way we run our business over time will need to provide proof of our intentions. There are definitely significant challenges we face and have responsibility for, not the least our being a business that will attract increasing numbers of visitors to Okarito. As visitor numbers grow on the West Coast, they will place a significant strain on the unspoilt nature of both the natural environment, and social community and culture here. So, whilst we want income from the business to be able to continue to operate and live in Okarito, there is a real danger that unchecked growth will spoil the quiet charm and very reason so many people regard this place as special in the first place. We have a responsibility to actively manage this as beneficiaries of this growth.
In the short term, there are some definete measures we take, and can take, to look after our home.
There’s lots more we can do and do, and lots more we shouldn’t do and hopefully won’t, in the future to safeguard what’s here. If you visit, hope you like the place, and hope you look after your home too.