Tāpai Taiao ki te Marae - Marae Based Eco Tourism

Ngaire, Molyneux
Henry, Ella
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Master of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The objective of this research was to critically analyse relevant literature and investigate past and current examples, which can have practical application for Māori eco-tourism ventures; to develop a model that creates value for marae based eco-tourism.

The study has focussed on two Māori ventures Te Urewera Treks a whānau owned and operated tourism venture based in Ngaputahi Te Urewera and Whakarewarewa the living Māori village in Rotorua. These ventures were chosen due to the nature of their Māori cultural tourism offering, longevity, location, and relationships the researcher has with each.

Case studies were developed through interviews as the primary research method. The research philosophy was guided by a kaupapa Māori approach given this project is both located and driven by Māori for Māori. Other methods included drawing on secondary data including an historical overview of the tribes and the regions inclusion of material published by each venture online and in print, other media and social media and other relevant and publicly available documents about or from the ventures being studied.

The research enabled a critical comparative analysis on two distinct iwi (tribes) but also a hapū (sub-tribe) enterprise and a whānau (family) enterprise. From the analysis key opportunities, challenges, critical success factors and value propositions for marae based eco-tourism were identified. This analysis included insights into the dynamics of balancing cultural protection versus commercialisation and how Government could intervene in a reciprocal manner. The key themes underpinning the critical success factors and value propositions that emerged were tikanga (culture), pou pono (values) and rangatiranga (leadership).

The research went further into investigating how to implement these in a contemporary environment through the development of a model for marae based eco tourism based on the foundation of the key themes.

The impacts of Covid19 on the ventures were also identified highlighting the versatility of the ventures, innovative changes and future planning they considered as a result of the pandemic.

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