How do traditional Māori values affect the sustainability of Māori tourism businesses?
The Māori economic asset base has seen significant growth over the past 100 years. Research estimates the Māori economy to be valued at 50 billion (NZ Foreign Affairs & Trade, 2018). While this figure represents the Māori economy, Māori tourism makes a significant economic contribution to this asset base. When considering the different aspects of the New Zealand tourism product, a key aspect that sets New Zealand tourism apart from other destinations is the unique Māori culture. This cultural aspect is a key motivating factor for international tourists intending on visiting New Zealand. Māori tourism businesses offer a range of tourism products and services that are embedded in, and informed by Māori values. When incorporated in business, many of these traditional Māori values align closely to the three pillars of business sustainability. Literature on Māori tourism, Māori values and business sustainability provide some insight into this phenomenon. However, little is known about how these three components interrelate. Ultimately very little is known about how traditional Māori values impact the business sustainability of Māori tourism businesses. The aim of this thesis is to investigate whether Māori tourism businesses incorporate traditional Māori values into their business and if so, how does the application of these values affect the sustainability of Māori tourism businesses. Developed from an interpretive social science research paradigm aligned with Kaupapa Māori research, this thesis assesses the impacts of the incorporation of Māori values on the business sustainability of Māori tourism businesses. Semi-structured interviews were selected as an appropriate method of data collection. 12 respondents from eight Māori tourism businesses were interviewed and their responses along with an analysis of the wider literature enabled the researcher to answer the overarching research question – how are traditional Māori values affecting the business sustainability of Māori tourism businesses? Key research findings include the following: the importance of hiring Māori, developing cultural capacity of staff and stakeholders, preventing cultural misappropriation, providing opportunities for local communities, the relationship of Māori with the land, the importance of sustainable relationships, the impact of climate change on Kaitiakitanga, and the importance of making a profit – but not at the detriment of culture and the environment. The findings identified that to have the ability to implement sustainable practices requires financial sustainability. This thesis makes a contribution to the literature on Māori values, Māori tourism and business sustainability by providing a greater understanding of which Māori values are applied by Māori tourism businesses and how these values impact business sustainability. In particular, this thesis has done something that previous literature has not, that is, it has attributed the specific effects of individual Māori values against the pillars of business sustainability. This gives the indication of which values have the greatest impact on business sustainability. Finally, in accordance with Kaupapa Māori research, this thesis has provided a practical contribution to the Māori tourism industry. This contribution is in the form of recommendations made to enhance the business sustainability of Māori tourism businesses.