This morning at ASB Showgrounds, they were formally greeted to host city Auckland with a mihi whakatau on the show floor, led by New Zealander of the Year theatre, film and television actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand CNZM. She gave a moving mihi in te reo Māori, before Ngā Rangatahi O Tamaki – a group of passionate youth selected from a variety of high schools throughout Auckland – who led a karanga, call of welcome, and a powhiri.
New Zealand Minister of Tourism, Hon. Stuart Nash welcomed guests by video link from Parliament, followed by BEIA Chief Executive Lisa Hopkins and Auckland Unlimited’s Head of Major and Business Events, Richard Clarke. The kapa haka group concluded with a vibrant action song and haka.
Last night MEETINGS 2021 was officially launched with a spectacular function at Auckland’s newest experience and venue, Weta Workshop Unleashed at SkyCity precinct. Welcomed by Weta creator and Academy Award winner, Sir Richard Taylor, guests were immersed in the fantastical film effects inspired by Wellington’s Weta Workshop, making the most of the surreal environments and interactive experiences.
BEIA Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins says Australian and New Zealand business event decision-makers are at MEETINGS today and tomorrow to learn everything they can about New Zealand as a business events destination, and to book their events.
“Many of our buyers have been travelling around New Zealand since Friday taking the opportunity to explore Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Our regional tourism organisations have been hosting familiarisation tours of their cities, highlighting new infrastructure, activities and hospitality. Now they have the chance to meet all of New Zealand in pre-scheduled appointments and networking time with 149 exhibitors across two days,” she says.
“There’s a sense of confidence coming back, reflected in the number of buyers and the number of first-time exhibitors to MEETINGS this year. They sum up the diversity of this industry - everything from Tauranga-based Brewbus, to Auckland’s stand-out new Hotel Britomart,” she says.
Amongst the new exhibitors are two South Island regions, Kaikōura on the South Island’s east coast, and Central Otago, who recently launched Central Otago Business Events, their own regional convention bureau. Five new exhibitors come from Queenstown this year, including hotels, production companies, and adventure operators.
Tourism New Zealand is hosting a new concept called Destination Zone on the show floor. In partnership with Congress Rentals, using their silent conferencing technology, 18 regions are giving a high-level overview to both day buyers and hosted buyers across the two days.
“These updates are giving buyers a deeper understanding of the breadth of offering within every region, showcasing the business events infrastructure and also the hidden treasures that make each unique and special for business event attendees,” she says.
MEETINGS is adding a new Speaker Series to the show floor this year in partnership with Celebrity Speakers.
“We are presenting a selection of Celebrity Speakers’ most in-demand speakers, including Dr Michelle Dickinson of Nanogirl Labs, popular psychologist Nigel Latta, and health and well-being experts, Dr Denise Quinlan and Dr Lucy Hone.
This year, MEETINGS also introduces the Hononga Lounge, providing an opportunity for businesses who focus on sustainability to meet with event organisers, identifying ways to be involved in future business events through partnerships or experiences. They include Bees Up Top, a company rescuing swarm bees and rehoming them in urban areas, such as Auckland hotel rooftops, and For the Better Good who make reusable and compostable water bottles from plants.