5 October 2018
A direct descendant of Akaroa’s very first French settler has set up a tour guiding business in the popular seaside town.
Marie Haley, who was born and raised in Akaora and travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, wants to share the town and Banks Peninsula’s amazing history with visitors.
“I want to provide a genuine experience, which is why I am sharing my family history and my perspective in these tours. I always yearn for this as a visitor myself; I want to know more than just what I can see, who the locals are, the history and the stories so that I truly remember where I have been,” Marie says.
Her tour company The Seventh Generation was launched earlier this year (2018) and is helping visitors understand the people and history that gives Akaroa its colour and special community feeling.
“Many people wander around the town, not aware of the meaning they are missing. It is fine to visit a monument, but do you really know what you are looking at when you get there? Stories bring places to life. That is one of the reasons I began my tours; I want visitors to know where they really are – not just a name on a map.”
The Seventh Generation offers two-hour history tours and private tours for individuals or school groups, with some profits from ticket sales going towards the ongoing protection of the area’s natural environment. As of this summer, Marie will also be offering an exclusive Akaroa history tour with Princess Line Cruises.
Marie has been the Wildside Coordinator for the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust for the past eight years, working with private landowners and government agencies to protect forest and species such as yellow-eyed penguin and little blue penguins.
“Akaroa and Banks Peninsula has some of the most amazing history in New Zealand, with three nationally significant sites within only a few kilometres of each other. I grew up on the family farm surrounded by markers of meaning – places with special stories attached to them such as pa sites (Māori village or defensive settlement), settler houses and prominent peaks.
“It has always been a habit to store stories away in my mind and share them with anyone who would listen, weaving them together into a foundation story for this place makes my world whole. I am constantly reading and learning to fill in the gaps in my knowledge to make my understanding complete,” Marie says.
In the future she would like to create a charitable arm to the business, to bring students out from low decile Christchurch schools to spend a day learning about the area’s history and to have time to connect with nature.