Respected tā moko artist Arekatera Maihi from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) will be on the 100% Pure New Zealand stand offering tā moko to delegates keen for a more permanent reminder of the Land of the Long White Cloud.
“Tā moko is a tāonga (treasure) to Māori people and culture,” Maihi says. “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,” Maihi explains. “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 the concept of communication and trust is also integral to the relationship between an event planner and their chosen destination. “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 hand-carved 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.”