Living the Tiaki way at The Rees Queenstown

‘Tiaki’ derived from the te reo Māori word, Kaitiakitanga means guardianship and protection. It’s not a trending catch cry for luxury operator, The Rees Hotel Queenstown, it’s a way of operating – a way of being.

“At the end of the day it goes right back to our strategy and how we live our sustainability and environment statement and values. That’s our guiding document. It’s what drives us all,” says Roman Lee-Lo, Director of Operations. “We actually live it, breathe it and practice it.”

The Rees commitment to TIAKI is visible in its triple bottom line of social, environmental and financial performance. Potential guests see Tiaki messaging on The Rees website, and in-house there are a number of subtle and no-so-subtle ways guests can see its intent in action.

There’s a company-wide environmental stewardship and social protection programme that actively pursues and cultivates a critical thinking ‘green mind-set’.

“This place is beautiful. We’re in a key position to make a difference by making a conscious effort to protect it for future generations to come.”

“Last year alone over 100,000 guests stayed with us. It’s an opportunity to positively influence everyone coming through our doors,” he says.

Lee-Lo appreciates the hotel’s role championing a multitude of responsible initiatives.

The Rees chisels down its carbon footprint by minimising waste day in and day out. Even used soaps are collected and recycled for vulnerable communities. “We know that such a small action has such a large impact.”

Urban bee hives have been built on-site to increase the local pollinating population. While a flora and fauna replanting programme has bore fruit with the welcome return of numerous native birds.

TIAKI is also felt in the form of a caring and respectful culture that’s extended to guests and staff alike. New hires enjoy the highest minimum wage in the tourism industry. There’s an employee assistance programme and access to workshops on financial seminars through to flu shots.

In the wake of the tragic Christchurch mosque attack The Rees spearheaded a collective fundraiser and silent auction with its suppliers raising thousands for families affected. It has a close connection with the community through hosting many Muslim guests and sourcing Halal meat from Christchurch.

People and the personal touch matter. For the last five years Mark Rose, The Rees CEO has spent over 165 days travelling the globe making annual sales calls in person himself. This act has single-handedly and powerfully contributed to The Rees securing year-on-year patronage to the property, the Southern Lakes region and New Zealand at large.

“A decade ago when we opened we didn’t just put that guiding statement on our website just for people to have a look at. We actually hold ourselves against it as well,” says Lee-Lo.