Māori tattooing creates major buzz at IMEX

Christina Nordine and Katz ta moko
New Zealand has made its mark at the IMEX meetings trade show in Frankfurt with 10 international delegates receiving tā moko - traditional Māori tattoo.
The presence of tā moko artist Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) certainly created a buzz on the 100% Pure New Zealand stand, says Tourism New Zealand’s Global Manager Business Events, Anna Fennessy.

“He was so popular we had a waitlist for the waitlist! Some people who missed out were asking if we would be doing tā moko at our next trade show. It definitely attracted attention on the show floor, and proved a great way to engage and connect with our Māori culture.”  

Once curious visitors to the stand had established that the tattoos were permanent, they were fascinated by the cultural aspect of tā moko and the stories they expressed, Fennessy says. 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.  

Maria Suurballe, Conference Manager at the Danish Institute for Sport Studies/Play the Game, admits getting tā moko at IMEX 2019 “was pretty spontaneous” but felt the artist quickly understood her personal story, paying tribute to three people she has lost that meant a lot to her. 

“I am so happy about my tā moko. These three people have been my dearest relatives, friends and soulmates, and I miss them all every day. So now I have a tattoo that symbolizes a face which can be divided into three faces – and in this way I can carry my dearest loved ones with me every day.”  

Christina Nordine, Senior Account Manager at Creative Group Inc, adds: “The tā moko I received at IMEX Frankfurt is a beautiful gift that I will always cherish! It represents the beauty in my journey, my son, all that is important to me, and is such a unique branding that connects me in a really special way to New Zealand’s Māori culture. 

“While I was chatting with Katz, his true kindness and positive energy shined so abundantly and spread throughout the community at the show – so many people visited during my appointment and also afterwards! I will continue to share my story for years to come; and one day my journey will surely take me to visit my new friends in New Zealand!”  

The New Zealand Business Events team is optimistic that activity at the show will now help them ink some new contracts to bring more conferences and incentives to New Zealand. Business events not only provide economic benefits by attracting high-value visitors to the country, but also enrich New Zealand through knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities and by showcasing local research and innovation on the world stage.  

Representatives from the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, Te Pae - Christchurch Convention Centre, Auckland Convention Bureau, Auckland Conventions Venues & Events, Te Puia in Rotorua, and ID New Zealand used the opportunity to discuss the benefits of hosting an event in New Zealand with attendees from around the world.

  This year’s IMEX Frankfurt show hosted nearly 70,000 individual and group appointments between events industry professionals and 3,500 exhibitors from more than 150 countries.

Ross Steele, General Manager of Te Pae, which is due to open October 2020, says: “It was a really good show and having tā moko on stand really got us attention in the marketplace. We had some very good appointments with American and European associations and have some solid leads to work on for the future.”