Sue Sullivan
Oct 30, 2018

Paying homage to indigenous culture in meaningful ways

How to responsibly incorporate indigenous culture into every aspect of meetings and events.

CINZ Māori culture advisor Ngahihi o-te-ra Bidois greets the delegates.
CINZ Māori culture advisor Ngahihi o-te-ra Bidois greets the delegates.

New Zealand’s Māori culture gives business event organisers a unique selling point in a competitive international environment. But indigenous culture is not something to blindly apply to meetings; if embodied responsibly, it can make up the very core values of the industry.  

Add meaning to greetings 

Applying ancient wisdom from his indigenous culture, our CINZ Māori culture advisor Ngahihi o-te-ra Bidois is always on hand before, during and after events. At the annual CINZ MEETINGS exhibition, he quietly pays respect to those that have gone before us, blesses the exhibition space, the stands, the food served to guests, and wishes safe travels to all visitors. 

Embody the culture in every aspect Bring indigenous people and their culture into key roles in your event whether as an emcee, in entertainment, performance, sound, music, speakers, imagery, graphics, website, or food and beverages. You can also add indigenous creativity into the event’s concept development, theming, design, staging, and storytelling. In short, bring the outside in.

Learn the correct protocols

Make sure you are not just giving a token nod to indigenous culture—this must be authentic and real. Remember it is about honouring and respecting your visitors. Take the time to learn the protocols surrounding the local culture in your area, everything from customs and stories, to greetings, speech-making and language.

Embrace different regions

Each of New Zealand’s regions has something different to offer on a cultural level, with stories, people and places specific to their local area. 

Empower the community 

In New Zealand, we have a vibrant and fast-growing indigenous economy and network that covers all sectors including business events. Make sure to contribute to emerging indigenous tourism experiences, cultural quality and authenticity and bring these into the business events sector.

Sue Sullivan is chief executive of Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ).



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