From traditional carving to plastic Tiki: Maori struggles to balance commerce and culture within the global tourism marketplace, 1860–2010

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Ma¯ori engagement with the tourism industry, from the nineteenth century to the present, has developed on face value into a ‘cultural Disneyland’ at Rotorua, where tourists partake in ‘native’ feasts while gazing at dancers twirling in unison on a timetable governed by bus schedules. Geysers likewise respond to tourist numbers and clicking camera shutters. While some condemn these experiences as inauthentic, others assert that they are based on the traditional concept of Manaakitanga (Ma¯ori hospitality). This paper examines Ma¯ori struggles to balance the ongoing coherence of their lived culture with exercising their right to benefit from commercial activities in tourism based on cultural resources, while their integrity and strength is constantly under threat from continuing processes of colonialism and globalisation. It uses decolonising methodologies and an Indigenous standpoint encompassing Kaupapa Ma¯ori to investigate the transformation of traditional carving by Ma¯ori artisans for tourist consumption. I argue that, contrary to the view that Ma¯ori have abandoned their traditional cultural values; Manaakitanga and Tikanga have evolved to suit changing circumstances during the past 150 years amid increasingly powerful forces operating within the international tourism marketplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-199
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Tourism History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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