Call for greater Maori input into business tourism

Karl Wixon helped develop The New Zealand Story, a government initiative launched in 2013. Photo:...
Karl Wixon helped develop The New Zealand Story, a government initiative launched in 2013. Photo: ODT files
Maori input into the likes of conferences and events needs to go beyond "haka, hongi, hangi and pukana''.

Bluff-born Karl Wixon told the Conventions and Incentives New Zealand conference in Auckland on Wednesday a more nuanced Maori story would add more value to the business tourism experience.

Mr Wixon helped develop The New Zealand Story, a government initiative launched in 2013 to help New Zealand companies gain a competitive advantage by building a consistent profile for Kiwi exporters in international markets.

Mr Wixon, who has Ngai Tahu affiliations, said Maori input at conferences was often "a bookend'', used just at opening and closing ceremonies.

"It brings up that question for a lot of people about why would you engage with Maori?''

In some cases people thought "I probably should, or I've been told I need to, or if I don't, I'm probably going to get in trouble''.

Whatever the context, the addition of the Maori story in an event was about adding value and impact.

"What you're engaging with is one of the most exciting, engaging dynamic things going on in New Zealand at the moment.''

There was a rapidly growing Maori energy and economy with extensive networks.

Maori now had a $50billion asset base, up from $8.8billion in 2001. Ngai Tahu alone had $1.6billion of assets.

The Maori economy was once referred to as a sleeping giant, but now "it's awake and it's running''.

But the benefit to events was not just economic, it was also the emotional experiences provided to attendees.

"I get sick of tourism talking about products, because you don't deliver tourism products, you have products to help deliver an experience.''

Maori were good at providing experience.

"Maori are very good at making the hairs on the back of your neck tingle, making you feel a bit of love, making you laugh.

"That's the stuff you'll remember.''

Mr Wixon pointed to Dunedin businessman Ian Taylor's presentation at a Cinz annual conference in Dunedin last year as an example of articulating the Maori story.



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