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‘Let’s Get Wild’: Sensuous Geographies of Kāwhia Kai and Hokitika Wildfoods Festivals in Aōtearoa New Zealand

Food Festivals allow communities to celebrate local food and drink. This original thesis examines the mutual relationship between food festival organisers, festival attendees and festival spaces. Two unique New Zealand regional food festivals – Kāwhia Kai on the West Coast of the North Island and Wildfoods Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island - are critically examined. The research addresses three questions. First, how do these food festivals construct their locations and vice versa? Second, in what ways do food festivals contribute to place identity? And, third, how do food festival attendees sensually experience the festivals? The concept of embodiment provides the overarching framework for this research. With academic interests in both tourism and geography, I weave understandings of culinary tourism, festivals, tourist embodied experiences, sensuality, visercality and abjection to address my research questions. I use this theoretical ‘toolbox’ alongside qualitative methodological approaches which enable research participants to express their embodied experiences and emotions. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted with festival organisers and food stall holders. Participant ‘sensing’ was carried out in both Kāwhia and Hokitika. In thinking about the social, cultural and ‘felt’ aspects of food, I also use my own body as an instrument of research. Promotional texts were collected and all data analysed using critical discourse analysis. The empirical material is divided into two themes. The first theme focuses on location and place identity. Concepts of ‘place attachment’ and ‘sense of belonging’ construct food festival regions. The formation of ‘new colonial’ and ‘new Māori’ traditions is another way in which these food festivals created unique place identities. The second theme highlights the embodied experiences and spaces of both food festivals. Bodily senses, place and spaces are created through visceral and abject reactions to food experiences. Food festivals have the potential to enhance the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of regional communities. The success of food festivals, however, is dependent on multi-sensual embodied experiences.
Type of thesis
Modlik, M. (2015). ‘Let’s Get Wild’: Sensuous Geographies of Kāwhia Kai and Hokitika Wildfoods Festivals in Aōtearoa New Zealand (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9519
University of Waikato
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