By Edwina Storie

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) has hailed this year’s MEETINGS NZ exhibition a great success despite it being partially overshadowed by further delays on any announcement of Auckland’s new convention centre.

The event was held at SKYCITY Auckland over Wednesday and Thursday this week. A record number of 172 exhibitors showcased their products, while 190 hosted buyers and 475 day buyers from around New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia and the United States were in attendance.

The buzz around the exhibition on the opening morning was about an announcement of a new convention centre, funded by SKYCITY. But excitement turned to disappointment when it was suddenly announced around midday that the decision had been postponed due to an investigation to be conducted by the Auditor General.

Event festivities at the exhibition included an inspiring Breakfast Showcase hosted by Celebrity Speakers that was full of healthy New Zealand humour. The Auckland Convention Bureau also hosted a spectacular party at The Cloud on the waterfront, proving that “Auckland can go from mild to wild in moments,” and the closing cocktail party, held at The Viaduct Events Centre, was one where everyone let their hair down.

The Auckland-based exhibitors were on a high having recently received the news that it jumped from 45th to 19th place on the ICCA rankings.

Exciting news at the show included the return and restoration of the historical Mataatua Wharenui House in Whakatane. To be launched on June 16, Mataatua creates an experience of performance and digital technology to tell the story of Mataatua and the Ngati Awa people.

In other announcements, Heritage Queenstown is refurbishing two wings while Heritage Nelson will soon welcome a new 1000 square metre convention space.

With the success of MEETINGS NZ and the ICCA jump, it is proof that the talk of the show – the fate of an Auckland Convention Centre – is more necessary than ever.