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The moral terrains of Māori tourism

The objective of this project is to understand how Māori values are integrated into Māori tourism geographies. The research asks three questions. First, how do values shape the moral terrains of Māori tourism? Second, how is Māori tourism constructed through state sponsored branding and policies? Finally, how and in what ways do Māori tourism providers (re)construct their places and identities through practicing Māori values in Aotearoa? The critical social geographies of tourism in this thesis are informed by Kaupapa Māori, mana wahine, feminist geography, moral terrains and diverse economies literatures. Methodologies are woven together using: semi-structured interviews; participant sensing; autoethnography; and, discourse analysis. A research whānau (extended family), including kuia and kaumātua (women and men elders), guide the ethical components of research design and practices. Participant sensing took place in northern, coastal and central areas of Aotearoa. As kaitāpoi (Māori domestic tourist) I took part in activities that included animal tourism, local cuisine, camping, high end accommodation, tramping, souvenir shopping, museums, a harbour cruise and visited information sites. Eleven semi-interviews were conducted with Māori tourism providers in northern and coastal spaces. I interacted with approximately 70 people during the course of this research. The findings of are divided into three substantive chapters. The first is an examination of two Aotearoa’s government tourism agencies’ policies and state sponsored branding. Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) uses language such as ‘best partner’ to attempt to form relationships and policy with Māori. New Zealand Māori Tourism (NZMT) prescribe Māori leadership and adopt a ‘people first’ approach. I untangled concepts of leadership, partnerships and the way strategic priorities are prescribed within the two institutions’ documents to reveal the way power relations are inscribed onto Aotearoa’s tourism terrains. The second chapter analyses state sponsored branding. Here I highlight the inconsistencies in the way Māori identities are represented. TNZ maintains a colonial imagining of traditional performance while NZMT present Māori men as contemporary leaders of diverse tourism experiences. Both organisations, however, continue to represent women as the ‘exotic other’. The three and last substantive chapter considers the lived realities of Māori tourism providers. Participants feel proud of the way their identities are represented on the global stage but concerned with the lack of representations of their contemporary lives and diverse tourism opportunities. Women are leading Māori tourism in a multitude of spaces and Māori tourism providers are practicing diverse economies. I argue that Māori identities, and Māori values, are defining elements of the Māori tourism experience. In closing this thesis I argue that the representation and lived realities of Māori tourism needs to be controlled by the tangata whenua who exist and inhabit precious places within Aotearoa’s landscapes.
Type of thesis
Ringham, S. (2015). The moral terrains of Māori tourism (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9900
University of Waikato
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