About ten days ago I was listening to a radio segment ‘NZ tour operator in strife for hiring pretend Maori performers’ and was blown away by the idea that a Maori performance could be enacted by foreign backpackers pretending to be Maori.
The story broke initially as a NZ Herald feature. In private email, the director of the port told me this was a one-off incident (which explains why the company doesn’t appear on the Web before the scandal). Much has been made of this incident with the story repeated and retweeted at length.
But the scandal del jour makes me ask … what is the status of Maori tourism in New Zealand? Since my 2007 gig speaking at the Ecotourism NZ Conference, I have been eager to know more about the no-doubt complicated nature of indigenous tourism in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Which tourism services are owned by Maori? What partnerships exist that benefit indigenous communities? As a visitor, what are my options?
I’m pleased with the participation of four nominees from New Zealand in the Indigenous Tourism and Biodiversity Website Award. I’m not sure how long the link will last but check out the Maori television feature which documents one of our ITBW Award nominees, Te Urewera Treks. This is a down-to-earth profile of a company learning how to make effective use of the Web. And remember: we’re all on the learning curve.
On top of my personal wishlist is a clear message drafted by New Zealand Tourism and the leading Maori councils on the country’s commitment to indigenous tourism. Now is the time to show the world what New Zealand’s own Maori tourism leaders wish to show the world.