Otago Polytechnic
Sharlene Howison 2 10x

Understanding New Zealand

Sharleen Howison and Dr Freya Higgins Desbiolles (Australian researcher)

The topic of M¯aori business and tourism is both a personal and professional passion for Dr Sharleen Howison.

Her latest paper, written in collaboration with Australian researcher, Dr Freya Higgins Desbiolles, culminated in a chapter in the book ‘Indigenous Tourism: cases from Australia and New Zealand’. Their research appears in chapter 8: Understanding tourism through an Indigenous lens of NZ and Aboriginal Australian cultures.

“Freya is renowned for her work with the Aboriginal people,” says Sharleen, “and as I am a M¯aori academic with personal history and interest in all things M¯aori including research and teaching areas in Tourism and Events, this was a wonderful opportunity to work together.”

This topic was exciting for Sharleen as a lot of her current research explores M¯aori culture in reference to tourism and visitor markets, particularly the Chinese. “The importance of authentic M¯aori cultural exchanges with our visitors is imperative to the growth of the tourism industry – in which the M¯aori people have a voice, place and pride in how their culture is being integrated into tourism in both Australia and New Zealand.”

The core of this research centres on understanding and underpinning cultural values. Sharleen and Freya propose that tourism be viewed through a prism of indigenous values, as this illuminates a different paradigm for tourism worth considering.

Their research was a critique of both indigenous cultures. It highlighted the importance of maintaining cultural authenticity, values, traditions and beliefs in New Zealand with M¯aori. “This focus is very similar to the Aboriginal culture who are also working to maintain cultural authenticity, values, traditions and beliefs in the tourism industry in Australia,” Sharleen explains. “It’s about honouring and respecting the passage of time and history of the two indigenous cultures through authentic experiences for visitors that both educate and enlighten them.”

Howison, S., Desbiolles, F., & Sun, Z. (2017) Understanding tourism through an Indigenous lens of New Zealand and Aboriginal Australian cultures Indigenous Tourism in Australia and New Zealand published in May 2017 (Chapter 8) ISBN: 9781911396406 HBK; 9781911396413