Johnny Edmonds, A Champion of Indigenous Tourism
Prepared by Dani McDonald, Communications/Media, New Zealand Māori Tourism
We learned with heavy hearts that our dear friend and colleague, Johnny Edmonds passed away in May 2020. Johnny was a stickler for detail and flag bearer for the development and strengthening of indigenous tourism. For Johnny, tourism was a vehicle for indigenous people to tell their own story. It is because of his foresight that New Zealand Māori Tourism exists today.
Johnny held executive management positions for indigenous non-profit organizations for the past two decades in Aotearoa and Australia. These include the Waitangi National Trust, Taitokerau Regional Māori Tourism Organisation, NZ Māori Tourism Council and the Western Australian Indigenous Tourism Operators Council. He served on tourism industry boards in NZ and Australia and held statutory and executive management positions in the NZ government.
Johnny led the formation of the national body of NZ Māori Tourism, as we know it today, from 2004 – 2007 where he helmed the establishment and organizational development of the NZ Māori Tourism Council, and the development of national and international relationships to foster the development of Māori tourism. In 2005, only one year into his new role at NZ Māori Tourism, Johnny established the inaugural nationwide conference in Tāmaki Makaurau focusing on operating sustainable clusters alongside the former Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon Dover Samuels. A year later, Johnny’s expertise at building relations was evidenced in a collaboration between Government and NZ Māori Tourism to provide targeted mentoring services to the business development needs of small Māori tourism businesses.
Johnny poured his energy into turning the attention of the tourism industry toward the Māori tourism product. During his tenure, Johnny saw that Māori tourism would grow Aotearoa’s entire tourism industry. Māori tourism eventually became the fastest growing sector, as a result of Johnny’s dedication and visionary leadership.