National | Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand contract puts Aotea and rongoā Māori skincare on the world's flight map

The skincare products in the updated amenity packs feature traditional ingredients that have been used by Māori for centuries.  Photo / Supplied

By Tyson Beckett, Stuff

First it was the snacks, then Air New Zealand announced its uniforms were getting a long overdue makeover. And now, the airline’s onboard amenity kits are getting a 'zhush' too.

It’s good news for the hands and faces of passengers in business premier and premium economy, who will now get spoilt with products from local skincare company Aotea as they travel.

Alongside the obligatory toothbrush and eyemask, guests in both cabins will receive a harakeke seed oil and mānuka water hand and body cream while business premier passengers will also pocket a tube of Kawakawa Balm.

Aotea founder Tama Toki (Ngāti Rehua, Ngā Puhi), who designs his products on Aotea Great Barrier Island, says both products are “super hydrating, super nourishing” making them ideal for application mid-flight. “Everyone knows how drying that recycled air can get in the cabin.”

Aotea Founder and CEO Tama Toki.  Photo / Supplied

Both products use ingredients that are features of rongoā Māori (Māori medicine). “The oil from Harakeke seeds have a very rich Omega-3, 6 and 9 content,” explains Toki. “And kawakawa has amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

“People call it ‘the everything product’ because it can treat things from sunburn and eczema to insect bites. When travelling the skin can kind of play up a little bit. So it will help if you have a breakout or a flare-up of eczema or psoriasis.”

As a small business owner, who has to this point been locally focused, Toki said this partnership with Air New Zealand was an exciting opportunity to share Māori mātauranga with an expanded audience.

“Māori at large are very proud of our culture, and it's nice to be able to have a vector to show the flora and share our story. It's really fulfilling to have the opportunity to do that.”

“It's a direct manifestation of our anecdotal history and understanding of the flora here.”

Toki’s understanding of the flora highlighted in the products that will be offered onboard were passed down by his grandmother, who was a rongoā practitioner.

“She would treat us kids with what we found in the bush and the Aotea range is an expression of that upbringing. It is unique to Aotearoa and something that we bring to life on our ancestral kāinga on Aotea.”

Toki also acknowledged that in addition to the increased attention the deal gave to his brand, winning the contract brought a financial influx too.

”The volumes are significant. That's massive for a small brand like ours,” Toki said.

“A really important aspect of the exposure is cash flow. It creates a lot of oxygen for our small company which gives us some working capital to reinvest into the infrastructure on the island. To employ more people there and that's always been a big part of our mandate.”

Air New Zealand is touting the partnership as evidence of the company’s commitment to showcasing the Aotearoa products on the world stage.

“Air New Zealand is proud to support local, Māori owned business and put traditional ingredients that have been used by Māori for centuries into the hands of our customers,” said Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

“We believe that our Aotea products will not only enhance the travel experience for our customers but also showcase local suppliers working towards a more sustainable future. It’s a privilege to share these treasures with our customers when they fly with us.”