Our readers may not have believed us when we reported Tourism New Zealand would be offering traditional Māori tattoos (tā moko) at IMEX Frankfurt this year.
But the proof is in. Ten international delegates received a tā moko at the 100% Pure New Zealand stand during the show, which ran from 21 to 23 May.
Respected tā moko artist Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi was so popular there was a waitlist for the waitlist, said Tourism New Zealand global manager of business events Anna Fennes.
“Some people who missed out were asking if we would be doing tā moko at our next trade show,” she said.
“It definitely attracted attention on the show floor, and proved a great way to engage and connect with our Māori culture.”
In the tā moko process, no design ideas are shown in advance. The artist listens to the recipient’s narrative, or kōrero, and brings it to life through their knowledge of traditional Māori designs.
Maria Suurballe, conference manager at the Danish Institute for Sport Studies/Play the Game, was among the 10 recipients.
She said 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,” she said.
“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, said her tā moko is a “beautiful gift” that she 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,” she said.
“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 the activity at the show generated through the tattooing will help them “ink” new contracts to bring more conferences and incentives to New Zealand.