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Tattooist gives trade show delegates a permanent souvenir

June 7, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

New Zealand has made its mark at the IMEX meetings trade show in Frankfurt, with 10 international delegates receiving tā moko – a traditional Maori tattoo; not a temporary version but a real, permanent tat, though it didn’t involve the chiselling of flesh.

Maori tattoos, as performed in the traditional manner, are done with a chisel, the tattooist tapping his “uhi” chisel rhythmically with a wooden stick. They didn’t go that far at IMEX, but there was a big waiting list for tā moko.

The presence of tā moko artist Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) certainly created a buzz on the 100% Pure New Zealand stand, Tourism New Zealand’s global manager business events, Anna Fennessy, commented.

“He was so popular we had a waitlist for the waitlist! Some people who missed out were asking if we would be doing tā moko at our next trade show. It definitely attracted attention on the show floor and proved a great way to engage and connect with our Maori culture.”

Once curious visitors to the stand had established that the tattoos were permanent, they were fascinated by the cultural aspect of tā moko and the stories they expressed, Fennessy said. In the tā moko process, no design ideas are shown in advance. The artist listens to the recipient’s kōrero (narrative) and, using their knowledge of traditional Maori designs, brings to life their individual story.

Arekatera ‘Katz’ Maihi

New Zealanders reputedly comprise one of the world’s most tattooed populations. The claim is hard to prove but the art is thriving.

Maria Suurballe, conference manager at the Danish Institute for Sport Studies/Play the Game, admits her decision to get tā moko at IMEX 2019 “was pretty spontaneous” but she felt the artist quickly understood her personal story, and paying tribute to three people she has lost that meant a lot to her.

“I am so happy about my tā moko. 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, adds: “The tā moko I received at IMEX Frankfurt is a beautiful gift that I 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.

Christina Nordine and Katz ta moko

“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!”

Maori tattooing was brought to New Zealand by the Polynesians who migrated there around 800 AD. Captain Cook took the word “tattoo” to the West after learning of the practice during a trip to Tahiti in 1769. The word derives from the Polynesian tatau, thought to be an onomatopoeic term, with the first syllable imitating the sound of a chisel being tapped, and the second syllable signifying a cry of pain from the recipient.

ta moko

The art almost died out in the 19th century, being frowned on by missionaries

The New Zealand Business Events team is confident that activity at the show will help them ink some new contracts to bring more conferences and incentives to New Zealand. Business events not only provide economic benefits by attracting high-value visitors to the country, but also enrich New Zealand through knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities and by showcasing local research and innovation on the world stage.

This year’s IMEX Frankfurt show hosted nearly 70,000 individual and group appointments between events industry professionals and 3500 exhibitors from more than 150 countries.

Written by Peter Needham

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