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MEETINGS stops traffic as it kicks off in Rotorua

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MEETINGS stops traffic as it kicks off in Rotorua
New Zealand’s annual business events trade show MEETINGS started with a traditional Māori welcome ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.

The MEETINGS welcome event began with a traditional pōhiri which saw the business events industry process across a main road in Rotorua – closed for the ceremony – welcomed and guided into the event venue by the local iwi.

The ceremony continued inside the recently refurbished Sir Howard Morrison Centre, with much of it carried out in te reo Māori – the Māori language.

During ceremony speeches, the last MEETINGS held in Rotorua over a decade ago was acknowledged by both RotoruaNZ’s chief executive, Andrew Wilson, and Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA)’s chief executive Lisa Hopkins. BEIA is the owner and organiser of MEETINGS.

“It’s been 13 years since we’ve been in Rotorua for MEETINGS,” said Hopkins.

“At the time it was a very different New Zealand. We were going through a tough time, reeling as we were from the earthquake which had hit Christchurch, which had been the original location for MEETINGS that year, in 2011. A last minute and urgent call which this city heeded meant that this event could continue.”

“And I’m told by everyone who came here, especially from our Christchurch and Cantabrian whānau [family] they were so welcomed, so warmly, and given so much care by the people of this city that is still remembered to this day.”  

The 2011 earthquake resulted in two thirds of Christchurch’s CBD being demolished, with the regeneration of the city still continuing today.

Wilson said a lot had changed since Rotorua last hosted the business event industry for MEETINGS.

“We’ve got some amazing new products, we’ve got new operators, we’ve got new venues…and there’s lots and lots and lots of stuff for us to share, so please do take the opportunity to get around and experience all that we’ve got to offer,” he said.

“One thing that is constant throughout that time though is our manaakitanga [hospitality] and an energy that this place embodies, which is we will always go above and beyond for our manuhiri [guests] – we always want to exceed your expectations. This is the little destination that could.”

 Hopkins foreshadowed the hospitality set to be rolled out by the host city, saying, “you have delivered and then some”.

The efforts of Rotorua’s hosting duties were almost immediately apparent, with attendees emerging from the welcome ceremony to a spectacular performance of nine singers, representing the nine stars of the Matariki – the Māori New Year – most of whom were suspended above the guests.

MEETINGS stops traffic as it kicks off in Rotorua
The post-ceremony performance at the Sir Howard Morrison Centre on Tuesday

RotoruaNZ also coordinated a famil for hosted buyers and media through Tuesday morning, with groups taking part in activities ranging from zorbing and off-roading to ziplining and soaking in Rotorua’s famous geothermal hot springs. Lunch was held at Te Puia, home to both the largest geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute.

Around 650 people attended the MEETINGS welcome event on Tuesday, with around 1,200 expected to participate in the trade show on Wednesday and Thursday.

Attendees include around 100 Australian buyers and media alongside eight hosted buyers from North America, five from Southeast Asia and three from Hong Kong. There are also hosted buyers from across New Zealand.

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