A passion for tourism and an interest in learning about new cultures, Tony Mai has been conducting his research about visitor wellbeing here at Whakarewarewa.
Tony is a student at the University of Waikato and is originally from Vietnam and has been in New Zealand for the past year studying his PhD to add to his bachelor’s degree in tourism management.
His PhD research topic focusses on understanding the wellbeing of hosts and visitors to the village, with his research questions asking how a host’s perception be conceptualised in terms of Māori perspective and how this is then delivered to visitors to enhance their overall wellbeing.
He said he has been interested in understanding the visitor wellbeing of people who visit geothermal areas.
“We know from science that cooking and bathing in geothermal areas is good for your health, so I wanted to research and study the impact geothermal areas have on visitors’ wellbeing, both physically and mentally,” he said.
He hopes that his research will help show Whakarewarewa how visitor wellbeing and Māori culture can be promoted.
“I love learning about new cultures, especially Māori culture and the learning about the roots of it here in New Zealand has been amazing so far.”
Tony said he came over to New Zealand to not only study the culture but to also experience it for himself and has always had an interest in cultures around the world, as they are all interesting.
“I chose to study here as chose to study here as tourism and hospitality are big here, it really is a privilege to study in this beautiful country.
“My PhD takes a minimum of three years study, but it could take up to four years. I would like to be able to conduct more research on a different topic relating to Māori culture at some point in the future.”
He said all the staff at Whakarewarewa were helpful while he conducted his research and has enjoyed working with them and visitors who came to see Whakarewarewa.
“The staff introduced me to visitors and gave me perfect tips to grasp the respondents. I really have enjoyed it so far, I find it all fascinating and enjoy a career in tourism, it is my passion.”
Tony hopes to return to Whakarewarewa and share his research with all of us here once he has had time to collect it all.