Meetings and Maori Culture in New Zealand

The alluring culture and history of this destination were showcased at this year's Conventions & Incentives New Zealand event

Maori culture experience

New Zealand boasts breathtaking natural beauty, adrenaline-pumping activities and world-class wineries. There is also a stable political climate here, making it an extremely safe country, with a favorable exchange rate, accessibility and year-round activities.

Essential to this alluring destination is the native Maori culture, which was a focus of Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) MEETINGS 2018, the country's leading business events exhibition, held at the end of May this year. Taking place in Auckland, the event included more than 190 exhibitors from 19 regions across New Zealand and more than 500 New Zealand, Australian and international buyers. Exhibitors included venues, theming companies, hotels, A/V companies and regional bureaus.

"Our culture sets Aotearoa [the Maori name for New Zealand] apart on the world stage," says CINZ Chief Executive Sue Sullivan. "Our venue designers, our artists, our leaders and our hosts are embracing Maori culture at many levels in their business-event thinking. Maori culture is more than something we do, it is who we are, from the way we greet our visitors to the time and care we take in hosting them."

According to Sullivan, the three core values of the Maori culture are Kaitiakitanga, the guardianship and protection of natural, physical and cultural resources; Manaakitanga, showing respect, warm hospitality, generosity and care for others; and Whanaungatanga, a relationship through shared experiences and working together, giving people a sense of belonging.

"These values underpin what we do, give visitors a deeper connection to New Zealand and a greater understanding of our capabilities and our culture," says Sullivan.

Ngahihi o te ra Bidois is an international speaker and author whose tattooed face captures the attention of attendees, but whose words make the most significant impact. He draws on the ancient wisdom of his Maori ancestors to educate and inspire audiences to be their best. He welcomed the group to the conference and offered a hongi, a traditional Maori greeting in which people press their noses and foreheads together.

A master class at the conference featured Karl Wixon, the Kaiarahi Maori, or Maori guide. Focusing on how Maori values can be integrated into events in a meaningful way, he gave an inside look at the culture.

This year, in addition to education and appointments, there was a pop-up barber shop/hair salon, and a place where attendees could create their own perfume.

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This article appears in the July 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.