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The show floor yesterday at MEETINGS 2024 in Rotorua, New ZealandThe nine stars of Matariki welcomed MEETINGS 2024 manahuri (guests) to Rotorua’s Sir Howard Morrison Centre last night (18 June) in a ceremony guided by local Māori iwi (people), Ngāti Whakaue.

Twinkling in the winter sky just before dawn, Matariki (the Pleiades) signals the Māori New Year. The appearance of Matariki heralds a time of remembrance, joy and peace, according to Māori custom. In the 2000s, it became more common for Māori and Pākehā to celebrate Matariki.

Over 1,000 business events professionals from New Zealand, Australia, Asia-Pacific, and North America are gathering in Rotorua over two days, 19 and 20 June, for New Zealand’s most prominent business events trade show, MEETINGS. Welcoming guests were Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell and RotoruaNZ Chief Executive Andrew Wilson. They were joined by Hon. Matt Doocey, New Zealand Minister for Tourism, via video.

Rotorua Mayor Tania Tapsell welcomed Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) MEETINGS back to Rotorua for the 2024 tradeshow.

Stars of Matariki depicted o stage at MEETINGS 2024 in Rotorua.

Stars of Matariki depicted on stage at MEETINGS 2024 in Rotorua.

“Rotorua is a hub for business innovation and events, tourism and Māori culture, so we’re perfectly placed and ready to provide an exceptional MEETINGS experience.

“We’re going through an exciting period of change here and can’t wait to showcase what’s new since MEETINGS was last held in Rotorua. We now have a world-class lakefront, luxury Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa facility, brand-new Sir Howard Morrison Centre, new forest hubs, and exciting new tourism attractions and hospitality offerings.

“We know delegates will have a memorable time here, experiencing the manaakitanga [hospitality and kindness] Rotorua is so well known for, and wish Business Events Industry Aotearoa every success with MEETINGS 2024,” Tapsell said.

BEIA Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins says the traditional pōhiri (welcoming ceremony) is part of tikanga and kawa – customs and etiquette – that ensure visitors are warmly welcomed and made to feel at home in Rotorua.

“Last night’s dramatic representation of Te Ao Māori – the Māori World, created by a group of talented young performers from Te Whare Tapere o Te Arawa, fused visual art, theatre, contemporary dance and kapa haka and ensured a powerful start to MEETINGS 2024,” she says.

During the pōhiri, Pae Ārahi (local hosts) guided guests through the formal ceremony. The Haka Pōhiri (stirring dance of welcome) was performed as a mark of respect to the dignity and prestige of the visitors and reflected the sanctity of Māori’s connection with the land.

Traditional challenge marks start of MEETINGS 2024

Traditional challenge marks start of MEETINGS 2024

Led by Ngāti Whakaue, manuhiri were welcomed into Te Haumihi, Sir Howard Morrison Centre, with Karanga (calls) and cries of Haka.

Later, guests witnessed a transformation from daylight to darkness, with nine suspended and elevated performers wearing impressive, large-scale costumes. The nine stars of Matariki came alive, weaving tales of their connection with Te Taiao (The Natural World).

At the close of the karanga, powerful lighting and subtle movement accentuated the artists, who performed a highlight from their sold-out season of Whetūrangihia.

Following the performance, MEETINGS guests enjoyed a live music showcase from some of Rotorua’s most talented local jazz and soul musicians.

Earlier in the afternoon, a specially crafted taonga wood carving from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia was presented to Lisa Hopkins and BEIA Chair Martin Snedden for MEETINGS, which will be displayed on the show floor.




Edited by Peter Needham in Rotorua, New Zealand