Our People

Jason Dawson

Jason Dawson, Chief Executive for Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

What is your current role?

Chief Executive

What do you enjoy about working at Hamilton & Waikato Tourism?

There are so many things I enjoy in my role but the most important one is the people. Seeing the people across our industry grow, succeed and thrive gives me immense pleasure and reminds me of the well-used Maaori whakatauki (proverb):

He aha te mea nui o te ao?
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

What was your first job?

Working at the local dairy on the weekends which taught me a lot about customer service, and helping kids decide what lollies to buy for 1 and 2 cents!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always thought I would be a school teacher when I was growing up. However, one of my heroes was my primary school principal, and he talked me out of it. When I reached high school, I wanted to be a travel and food writer!

What is an achievement or special credential you're really proud of?

Completing my Master of Business Administration (MBA) while juggling a full-time job - lots of late nights and weekend work! I always thought completing my MBA would provide validity that I could 'cut it' in the business world, but really the only person I had to prove it to was myself.

What do you do in your spare time?

Doing experiences with my friends - from travel, cycling or fishing through to checking out the latest foodie hot spot. My garden is also a personal passion as I love the change of seasons, colours and fruit/veges.

What are you most grateful for in your life?

My family. I think lockdown really made us all define what we are grateful for in life and our families walk alongside us on our journey through life. We might not be as connected as we used to be but they are always there through thick and thin!

Who inspires you and why?

My grandfather. He was a very hard-working man, who loved his family, faced war and emigrated to the other side of the world for a better life. He was so kind, considerate, giving and also had a wicked sense of humour. Plus, he always remained proud of where he came from - go Wales!

Have you got a favourite aphorism / motto?

It used to be "live life to the full" but now thanks to the TV advert with a bad tattoo, it's now "no regerts". We don't get a second chance and need to ensure we do something every day that makes us happy. My Dad would say "just do it, we are a long time dead!"

What is your favourite spot in the Waikato?

Sitting in the red Ting Pavilion overlooking the Waikato River after winding your way through the Chinese Scholars' Garden at the Hamilton Gardens. Still a favourite.