Business Events Industry Aotearoa receives new taonga

June 19, 2024 |

A Tauihu carving was blessed and gifted to Business Events Industry Aotearoa yesterday at Te Puia | New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.

This week Rotorua is hosting MEETINGS organised by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) – the biggest national trade show in Aotearoa New Zealand for the business events industry, where international buyers come together to discuss new business opportunities.

BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins said it was an incredibly humbling moment to see the taonga unveiled.

BEIA CEO Lisa Hopkins sees the taonga unveiled

“We feel extremely privileged, and we also accept the responsibility and understand the importance of what has just happened. It’s a beautiful piece – it’s a new member of the team and I feel quite overwhelmed by the manaaki we’ve been shown,” she said.

Hopkins explained that the genesis of this moment came together over a cup of coffee last year when BEIA was talking about bringing MEETINGS to Rotorua and what that might look like.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a taonga from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau (National School of Wood Carving) that could be put on display at our annual events, and which could be part of the BEIA organisation.”

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) Pouako Whakairo Rākau (wood carving tutor) Hohepa Peni led the carving of the piece titled Waka Putanga, also working on it with tauira (students). He explained that a Tauihu is the front-end prow of a waka in miniature form which represents people coming from overseas for MEETINGS for an emergence of ideas.

Ngahihi Bidois and carver Hohepa Peni discuss Waka Putanga

The rākau is from a 3,000-year-old log of kauri from Tā (Sir) Hekenukumai Busby, a Te Tai Tokerau elder who led the revival of traditional Māori navigation and ocean voyaging skills. This same log of kauri was also used to carve a 10-metre waka maumahara at the World Expo in Shanghai in 2019 as part of the NZMACI Tuku Iho Living Legacy Exhibition.

Peni says the tauihu has a tenison morton join cut at the bottom which is referred to as the haumi kokomo – a specific join to extend the waka and make it longer.

“In a different context – haumi means ‘to join’ as a kaupapa (purpose) – it reflects how we seek to join ideas at this MEETINGS event, with the connecting of business,” said Peni.

“The two stylised figures represent tangata ora (the living) – the people who will be at MEETINGS and the people of BEIA.

“This form is also in putanga style, which means ‘to emerge’, to step out. We’ve also tried to keep this culturally accessible to all and we have contemporised the piece with hollowing out techniques which are more sculptural, to show off the rākau – it’s not over designed because it’s beautiful kauri,” he said.

Ngahihi Bidois

“The pāua (abalone) shell inlays are an acknowledgement of travellers converging like rivers or seas.

“The kura (feathers) represent the dreams everyone brings for the future. At MEETINGS, attendees are looking for connections and outcomes to make their dreams become a reality. The feathers in an indigenous context connect us back with our tūpuna (ancestors),” Peni explained.

Waka Putanga is now a feature at the entrance of the Energy Events Centre where MEETINGS is held over the next two days.

Whano, whano!

Haramai te Toki!

Haumi ē!, hui ē!

Taiki ē!

Waka Putanga at the Energy Events Centre


About the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute:

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) operates on-site at Te Puia and is home to:

⮚ Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau (National Wood Carving School)

⮚ Te Takapū o Rotowhio (National Stone and Bone Carving School)

⮚ Te Rito o Rotowhio (the National Weaving School)

The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Vesting Act 2020 has a purpose to encourage, foster and promote ahurea and toi Māori (culture and Māori arts) of Aotearoa New Zealand. At its core NZMACI is about the protection and transfer of traditional mātauranga Māori knowledge. With a 60-year legacy, NZMACI has had 48 intakes, tauira (students) from 83 Iwi and has produced 161 highly skilled crafts people. The Institute has a focus on education, national outreach, and global outreach.

About BEIA:

Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) is the official membership-based association of New Zealand’s business events sector. It has more than 460 members across a broad range of industries. BEIA works to actively promote the sector for its members and New Zealand. It provides advocacy with central government; and offers assistance, information, professional development, and business connections to its members.


MEETINGS is Aotearoa New Zealand’s only national tradeshow for the business events industry. It is the leading platform for connecting influential domestic, Australian and international buyers with key regions, meeting facilities, accommodation, off-site venues and activities. MEETINGS, now in its 28th year, is owned and managed by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA). After receiving Toitū net carbon zero certification as a Certified Event Operation for the first-time last year, MEETINGS is continuing its journey as a certified net carbon zero event in 2024. MEETINGS 2023 broke records this year for the value of business it generated. BEIA’S post MEETINGS buyer survey showed $157 million placed over the next five years following the two-day event in Wellington. MEETINGS 2024 major partners are Air New Zealand, Tourism New Zealand Business Events, RotoruaNZ, Energy Events Centre Rotorua, EventsAIR, Peek Exhibition & Display, and Exhibition Hire.