Destinations

“It’s much more than Hobbits and big mountains”: Here’s how you SHOULD sell New Zealand

Ali Coulton

Generally speaking, when travellers plan a trip to New Zealand they probably have two things in mind: Hobbits and mountains.

We got a rude shock when we found out there were no real Hobbits frolicking through the hills of Matamata, but maybe that says more about us than the destination…

Ja2vZs3

While attending the Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) MEETINGS trade show last week, we had the pleasure of chatting with Karl Wixon, who is the ‘Kaiārahi Māori’ for New Zealand Story.

New Zealand Story is a government-funded program focusing on how the New Zealand tourism industry shares the story of their country with the rest of the world.

Wixon told us they’re trying to move people’s perception beyond Hobbits and big mountains.

My role within New Zealand Story is actually bringing to the surface the Maori side of things and how that becomes part of our national identity and culture and the way we engage and connect,” Wixon told us. 

“It’s not just something we show, its also about how we act, how we greet, how we do all of these things.”

“It’s up to me to find that essence and how we celebrate it. It’s about moving beyond, not leaving behind, the Haka, Hongi, Hangi and Pukana.”

I say that not to belittle these things, these are powerful things but they become the default setting and the default image of Maori which is a very narrow point of view of the culture and all its shades of brown.”

According to Wixon, there has been a big shift in the way Māori tourism operates. He said that the one-dimensional displays of cultural entertainment, or dial-a-Hakka as he called it, reflect a sense of colonial quaintness.

“If you look at early colonial images of Maori its kind of that portrayal as warriors and maidens with lovely children and a lot of that has been mirrored.”

I’m not at all belittling things like those customs and traditions but they’re only one part of a broader offering. Sometimes those things are a contemporary stretch from tradition.”

Wixon said contemporary Māori tourism operators often simply reflect the values and traditions of their culture.

And tourism operators from all walks of life could learn a thing or two from them.

I get sick of tourism opperators talking about their products because you don’t deliver tourism products, you deliver products to help deliver an experience.”

“What you’re doing is you’re experience producers. Maori are very good at experience. Making the hair on the back of your neck tingle, making you feel a bit of love,  making you laugh, that’s the stuff you remember.”

“You’ve got amazing Maori tourism operators but you wouldn’t see their business necessarily as Maori tourism, like the guy that runs Crankworkx and does VIP hosting in Rotorua, which is a very Maori business when you scratch beneath the surface. The way he thinks, the way he hosts, the way he engages, its very Maori. But it’s not being portrayed with the typical Maori imagery.”

Wixon said New Zealand Story is working alongside Tourism New Zealand to switch the narrative of how the country is portrayed to the world.

It’s now less about place and more about people.

I think earlier it would be fair to say New Zealand Story probably saw the job as selling New Zealand. Now it’s about selling New Zealanders.”

“It’s about bringing to life the way others view us; the third party perspective. It’s not about standing out and proclaiming our virtues, it’s about seeing how others see value in us as New Zealand.”

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

WATCH: Intrepid releases heartfelt video to remind the world why we travel

Travel Weekly’s deputy editor cried her eyes out while watching this video. Partly because it’s so beautiful, but mostly because she just really wants to be on the next plane out of here.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Australia’s first Mövenpick hotel opens its doors

Among the offerings at this new Accor hotel is a daily ‘Chocolate Hour’, which we can only assume involves bathing in Cadbury Dairy Milk.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Tourist slammed for daring Instagram video on the edge of 500m waterfall

A 25-year-old influencer has been heavily criticized for taking photos of herself on the edge of a very threatening looking waterfall and, you know, fair enough.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

CLIA names new global chairman

There’s been a major change in CLIA’s boardroom, and we’re not talking about the new fiddle-leaf fig.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

DFAT accidentally advises visa applicants to travel overseas despite COVID-19 pandemic

Looks like someone at the Department of Home Affairs is getting fired after accidentally telling visa applicants to get overseas immediately during a global pandemic.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Savvy agent scores loads of cruise bookings during Victoria’s lockdown

Meanwhile, the only thing Travel Weekly’s achieved in lockdown was to eat his weight in potato chips while cramming as many Netflix series into one day as possible.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Northern Beaches COVID-19 outbreak led to $7 billion loss for tourism industry: TTF

Avalon residents have reportedly gone back into quarantine to escape the blame for this huge loss to the tourism industry.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Federal government urged to introduce HECS-style loan scheme for small businesses

Could this turn out to be another much-needed funding opportunity for travel agents? Let’s bloody hope so.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Air New Zealand updates international flight schedule to end of June

Keen to know the Kiwi carrier’s international movements over the next few months? All is revealed here.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

WATCH: “Naughty” tourists forced to do push-ups for not wearing masks in Bali

Travel Weekly staff would do anything to avoid doing push-ups. Hell, we’ll wear six masks if we have to.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Airbnb appoints new regional boss

APAC hoteliers are looking over their shoulder after the home-sharing giant named its new bossman for the region.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

WTTC releases mental health guidelines for travel and tourism sectors

At a time when mental health could not be more important, the world’s leading tourism organisation has released some new guidelines to help businesses of all sizes in the industry support their employees.

Share

CommentComments