Ngai Tahu Abel Tasman Cluster

"Without a doubt, initially it can be hard work engaging a team in new behaviour."
Tom Bryant, Operations Manager

Our business

We operate in the Abel Tasman year round with an obvious peak over the summer period. During this peak we employ 27 kayak guides, 17 water taxi drivers, five support staff and 11 reservations staff. We operate guided kayaking, freedom rental of kayaks, a seal swim operation and a fleet of 12 water taxis.

Safety system strengths

I am very proud of the safety culture that our firm has which is reflected in our high level of incident reporting.

It works well for us because

There are a number of facets that have worked together to improve our safety culture:

  • Team buy in – without this, any shift in the safety culture of our organisation would be ineffective and ultimately short-lived.
  • Walking the walk – this is a key element in our team buy in, if we say that safety and incident reporting is important BUT do not act on the safety concerns of our staff they will perceive that we are not really interested and will become disengaged.
  • No blame – we want our team to identify when things have almost gone wrong, i.e.  ‘an incident,’ so we can track trends and ultimately improve our safety systems. To do this they need to know that there is no blame attached to reporting incidents (no matter how hard this may be for us as an owner or manager!) Removing this fear has allowed our team to work together to improve safety, rather than covering up our mistakes.
  • Celebrate behaviour – as identified above, we try not to place blame, instead we celebrate acceptable behaviour (the use of personal protective equipment, correct reporting, people volunteering for the health and safety committee, etc.) We look for ANY opportunity to do this.

Without a doubt, initially it can be hard work engaging a team in new behaviour. We have persevered and therefore our team has taken ownership of the safety culture and it has become self-perpetuating. It is the ‘norm’ and as new staff come on stream they just accept that that’s how it is done in our organisation.


Tom Bryant, Operations Manager
Mobile: 021 869 394
Phone: 03 527 8617 ext 6