Current research in hospitality, tourism and events

The School of Hospitality and Tourism has a broad range of research activities. On this page we provide a sample of the research currently being done by school academic staff.


Watching dolphin watchers

Associate professor Michael Lück and post-doctoral fellow Dr Brooke Porter, together with Dr Bart Neuts, currently work on pelagic bird tours in New Zealand. There is very little research on seabird tourism, and thus a primary focus is on profiling "the pelagic bird tourist", to gain a better understanding about the background, interest, and specialisation of these birders. A second study, looking at motivations and experiences of pelagic bird watchers in-depth, is currently in the planning stage.

Michael, together with Brooke and Dr Krista Hupman (NIWA) are also completing a study investigating the on-tour experiences of tourists on dolphin watch tours in Kaikoura and Auckland. In particular, their focus is on the interpretation and education on these tours, which builds on Michael's work in Kaikoura, Akaroa and Paihia a few years ago.

Dr Claire Liu's current research

Dr Claire Liu is undertaking several research projects in the area of Chinese outbound tourism market and tourism education. Current projects include:

  • Using qualitative research methods, the Chinese self-drive tourism market was explored in terms of motivation and behaviours for taking self-drive holidays overseas
  • Co-editing a book "Tourism Education and Asia" to be published in 2018 with Dr Heike Schänzel from the School of Hospitality and Tourism
  • Slow tourism and the growing Chinese FIT tourist market.

Leisure value and amenities in coastal and mountain communities

Dr Massimo Morellato is currently exploring patterns of leisure consumption in coastal and mountain destinations in New Zealand with an attention on community and tourism development under a more sustainable use of natural, cultural and recreational resources. His investigation on ski areas focuses on skiers' perceptions and the ski areas attributes that influence the tourism/leisure experiences at different ski resorts and club fields in New Zealand.

Massimo's research interest include the evolving ski demand and the developing ski industry, the attitude and preferences of different skiers, how the unique and heterogeneous ski areas are experienced and managed.

Massimo's work on the coastal community of Muriwai, New Zealand aims to gain a better understanding of the role of leisure amenities in nurturing community development and attracting tourists as well as 'costal commuters' and life-style migrants. Dr Massimo Morellato is also currently involved in supervising a postgraduate research project on Scuba Diving experience in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

Food culture, dining out, food in New Zealand, cynicism and altruism

As a food sociologist, Lindsay Neill keenly researches contemporary restaurant, food and beverage culture not only within Aotearoa New Zealand but also within wider western hospitality frameworks.

This interest has generated research projects examining vernacular food culture in New Zealand, how pie carts have come to reflect New Zealand's nostalgic 'golden summer', how the humble meat pie has incorporated contemporary New Zealand identities, and how, within a four nation project, constructs of altruism and cynicism impact the world view schemas of undergraduate students.

Lindsay has published widely in academic journals and is the author of two books; The Great New Zealand Pie Cart and The New Zealand Chef. In 2014 Lindsay headed the Food Studies Research Group. This group went onto win the Vice-chancellors Team Research award for that year.

Tourism and hospitality dimensions of families

Dr Heike Schänzel is currently involved in several research projects relating to families. She is passionate about better understanding family fun (along with the avoidance of conflict) and the facilitation of sociality and meaningful experiences within the context of tourism and hospitality. Current research interests include:

  • Guest editorials with Associate Professor Neil Carr (Otago) for two special issues of Annals of Leisure Research on children, families and leisure, published in 2015
  • Research project on holiday experiences of separated fathers with Professor John Jenkins (Southern Cross University)
  • Conceptualisation of masculinities and fatherhood within the gender debate in tourism with Professor John Jenkins (Southern Cross University)
  • Research project on understanding the family ski experiences at Sun Peaks Resort in Canada with Ass. Professor John Hull (Thompson Rivers University)
  • Research project on Commercial home experiences the Samoan way: Family holidays at beach fale accommodation with Prof. Paul Lynch (Napier University, Edinburgh) which extends my interest on family tourism into the Pacific Islands.

Sexual harassment issues in hospitality

Associate Professor Jill Poulston has researched sexual harassment issues in hospitality extensively, and is currently completing a project exploring differences in attitudes towards harassment between hospitality workers and women working in uniformed services. Around 25 percent of hospitality workers report that they have been sexually harassed, whereas in uniformed services such as the police and military, 36% of women report they have bene harassed. This study explores consistent themes around sexual harassment and assault and attempts to determine the boundaries between harassment and harmless social interactions. The study follows prior work on harassment, some of which has been undertaken with research students (e.g. Beth Waudby and Lisa Sadaraka). It is anticipated that the results will be published in 2018.

Iconic restaurants, pie carts and graduate profiles

Lindsay Neill has several research projects under way, two with Dr Claudia Bell of Auckland University. One relates to the "Identifiers of an 'Iconic' Restaurant", the other, the "Nostalgia and 'Kiwiana' Associations of Pie Carts". Other research projects include the "History of Auckland's White Lady"; in collaboration with Prof. Nigel Hemmington; "Cultural Heritage and Fast Food", with Dr. Eveline Deurr, University of Munich, and "Student Vocabulary Progression of First Year University Students", with Alison Kirkness and Dr. Peter Gossman. Lindsay Neill’s next research undertaking is an examination of "Stakeholder Perspectives in Graduate Profile Accuracy". This is joint research with David Williamson. Assoc Prof. Neil Haigh, Alison Kirkness and Jim Lester.

Study of Japanese chōki taizaisha in Auckland

Junji Kawai and Dr Charles Johnston are examining issues related to ethnicity and identity, motivation and mobility, of importance to Japanese "long-term stayers" (chōki taizaisha) in Auckland. Though Japan is known to be a homogeneous society, these are people who have chosen to live in New Zealand. We are interested in learning why they came, how they see themselves as inhabitants of New Zealand but citizens of Japan, and whether they have concerns that can be improved by changes in New Zealand policies.