Hongi, hangi, haka, moko: Language and the representation of Maori culture in contemporary mainstream travel guidebooks | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2050-4039
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4047



Tourist texts, such as brochures or guidebooks, are among the first sources of encounter between tourists and destination people. Indeed, such texts provide tourists with a ‘cognitive framework’ (Bhattacharya 1997: 372) for interpreting a destination and its cultures, and language in travel writing is paramount for negotiating between different cultures and meanings. Guidebooks should thus be read critically in order to assess the cultural images they construct to promote a specific destination, and the language they use to create them. This article offers a linguistic and discursive analysis of how mainstream travel guidebooks of Aotearoa New Zealand in English (i.e., Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, National Geographic Traveler and the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide) represent Maori culture. Specifically, the sections on the culture of tangata whenua (the people of the land/Maori people) in these guidebooks will be studied to determine which aspects of Maori culture are used to depict the Maori people of Aotearoa New Zealand and how the language of tourism shapes such descriptions. The title of this article refers to the four words in te reo Maori (Maori language) that are most commonly associated with Maori culture in tourist texts. The aim of the article is to determine whether these descriptions offer an exoticized version of Maori culture, or whether they effectively engage with its actuality and complexity. Following a transdisciplinary approach that bridges sociolinguistics and tourism studies, the article seeks to present a case study that demonstrates how fruitfully linguistic analysis can be used in the discussion of the production and dissemination of the tourist image of Maori people in Aotearoa New Zealand from an Indigenous tourism studies perspective.


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