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Tourism New Zealand debuts world-first hospitality experience at IMEX Frankfurt

The notion that a stranger can soon become a friend after a conversation and a meal is the concept behind Tourism New Zealand’s innovative stand at the IMEX trade show in Frankfurt this week.

Convention planners can enjoy a kōrero (conversation) and kai (food) at a dining table intricately designed and carved from ancient reclaimed swamp kauri by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) to reflect Māori hospitality traditions that have shaped contemporary New Zealand culture.

The table has been made in two pieces. One part will remain in New Zealand and the other will travel around the world.

In Frankfurt the two pieces will come together separated only by a high definition screen. At one end will be the convention planners enjoying New Zealand produce at IMEX and at the other end will be Kiwis dining at Rotowhio marae in Rotorua and Harbourside in Auckland, to give the illusion everyone is seated at the same table.

“The kōrero and kai table is a powerful symbol of how New Zealand welcomes strangers and makes them feel at home. It also acts as an invitation to the world to come and experience New Zealand’s beauty and our warm hospitality for themselves,” says Lisa Gardiner, Manager of Business Events and Premium at Tourism New Zealand.

Carved by former NZMACI head of school and Master Carver, Albert Te Pou, the table incorporates two main designs – kōwhaiwhai and taratara ā kai (or kae).

NZMACI general manager, Eraia Kiel says, “To tie in the kōrero aspect of this kaupapa (initiative), the kōwhaiwhai design weaves in the stories of who we are here in Aotearoa, focusing on nature, culture and tradition.

“The taratara ā kai design speaks of the value of kai to show hospitality and bring people together.”

Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, says the focus on live kōrero sits at the heart of this kaupapa (principle) and much like travelling, you never know who you will meet.

“People will gather around the table, as if they were together in the same room, to share stories and connect with each other in a unique, yet simple, way.

“It’s a privilege for our culture to be at the forefront of those interactions, sharing our cultural narratives with the world and educating people on the beauty of our material culture.”

IMEX Frankfurt is an annual international trade show that provides a unique opportunity for representatives of the New Zealand tourism industry to educate and establish business relationships with meeting and incentive buyers from the global outbound business events market.

This year the industry partners exhibiting at the 100% Pure New Zealand stand from 15-17 May are the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC), Christchurch Convention Centre (Ōtākaro Limited), Auckland Venues, Auckland Convention Bureau, ID Tours and Te Puia.