An intricately designed table carved in Rotorua will see strangers a world apart dine together in Frankfurt this week.
The notion that a stranger can soon become a friend after a conversation and a meal is the concept behind Tourism New Zealand's innovative stand at the IMEX trade show in Frankfurt.
Convention planners can enjoy a kōrero and kai at a dining table intricately designed and carved from ancient reclaimed swamp kauri by the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute.
The table has been made in two pieces. One part will remain in New Zealand and the other will travel around the world.
In Frankfurt the two pieces will come together separated only by a high definition screen.
At one end convention planners will be enjoying New Zealand produce at the trade show in Frankfurt - at the other end will be Kiwis dining at Rotowhio Marae in Rotorua and Harbourside in Auckland, to give the illusion everyone is seated at the same table.
Tourism New Zealand Business Events and Premium Manager Lisa Gardiner said the kōrero and kai table was a powerful symbol of how New Zealand welcomes strangers and makes them feel at home.
"It also acts as an invitation to the world to come and experience New Zealand's beauty and our warm hospitality for themselves."
Carved by former New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute head of school and master carver, Albert Te Pou, the table incorporates two main designs – kōwhaiwhai and taratara ā kai (or kae).
New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute general manager, Eraia Kiel said to tie in the kōrero aspect of the kaupapa, the kōwhaiwhai design weaved in the stories of who we are in Aotearoa, focusing on nature, culture and tradition.
"The taratara ā kai design speaks of the value of kai to show hospitality and bring people together."
Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, said the focus on live kōrero sat at the heart of the kaupapa and much like travelling, you never know who you
"People will gather around the table, as if they were together in the same room, to share stories and connect with each other in a unique, yet simple, way.
"It's a privilege for our culture to be at the forefront of those interactions, sharing our cultural narratives with the world and educating people on the beauty of our material culture."
IMEX Frankfurt is an annual international trade show that provides a unique opportunity for representatives of the New Zealand tourism industry to educate and establish business relationships with meeting and incentive buyers from the global outbound business events market.