New Zealand aims to make a lasting impression at this year’s IMEX trade show, with visitors invited to experience the unique beauty and cultural storytelling of live tā moko (traditional Māori tattooing).

Respected tā moko artist Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) will be on the 100% Pure New Zealand stand offering tā moko, traditional Māori tattoo for those visitors keen for a more permanent reminder of New Zealand.

“Tā moko is a tāonga (treasure) to Māori people and culture,” says Maihi. “Tā moko has to be about connection, otherwise it’s just a drawing. Connections can be between you, your whanau (family), your area, your environment or anything else specific to your life.”

In the tā moko process, no design ideas are shown in advance. The artist listens to the recipient’s kōrero (narrative) and, using their knowledge of traditional Māori designs, brings to life their individual story. Afterwards, the meaning of the visual representations is explained by the artist.

“Part of tā moko is getting what you’re meant to receive,” says Maihi. “It can feel like a risk to entrust your story to someone else and then let them have access to your skin. It’s a leap of faith on both sides.”

Tourism New Zealand’s Global Manager Business Events, Anna Fennessy, says that the concept of communication and trust is also integral to the relationship between an event planner and their chosen destination. She adds: “Having tā moko on the stand provides an opportunity for international visitors to engage with our culture and experience our ability to create and deliver something bespoke and amazing. It will provide a truly memorable way for New Zealand to make its mark.”

Visitors to the New Zealand stand are invited to participate in the Māori tradition of kōrero and kai (a chat and a snack) by meeting and eating together around a table. In Māori culture, it is believed that a stranger will soon become a friend after sharing a conversation and a meal.

Fennessy adds: “Part of New Zealand’s appeal as a business destination is our personal approach to business, ease of travel, and surrounding environment. The kōrero and kai concept allows us to promote these factors to potential business event partners and exemplify Kiwi hospitality in a boutique and personal manner amid a large, open-plan exhibition setting.”

The hand-carved “Kōrero and Kai” table has become a highly successful showcase of New Zealand’s warm welcome at recent trade shows. Visitors can enjoy a New Zealand snack while sampling a taste of its activities and spectacular scenery through interactive video and discussion with hosts from some of its leading events venues and service providers.

Fennessy says IMEX will provide an excellent opportunity for event planners to explore what’s new in New Zealand.

Stand partners include the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, and Te Pae – Christchurch Convention Centre. Both are currently under construction and set to open in 2020, ensuring New Zealand’s conference venue options are bigger and more varied than ever.

Auckland Convention Bureau and Auckland Conventions Venues & Events will also be on the stand: with the city set to host the prestigious America’s Cup sailing regatta in 2021, it is welcoming a raft of new luxury accommodation and opportunities for incentives and high-end events.

Representatives from Te Puia in Rotorua, home to the NZMACI and authentic cultural experiences, will also be present, as well as destination management experts ID New Zealand.

Visit New Zealand at stand C300, at IMEX Frankfurt, 21-23 May

Share your IMEX tā moko experience at #NZundermyskin