by Meetings & Conventions Asia | July 16, 2019
The Native American & Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Conference held in Waikato attracted a record attendance of 1,872 registrations. (Tourism New Zealand)
Hamilton, a city located on New Zealand's North Island, has hosted a record attendance of the NAISA conference in June, the first time the conference has travelled out of North America.

Held June 26 to 29, the Native American & Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Conference attracted its largest attendance yet of 1,872 registrations, in what has been hailed as a milestone meeting for indigenous scholars from around the world.

The previous edition of the conference, held in Los Angeles, hosted 1,000 delegates.

The three-day conference included a community day, followed by 257 sessions from 900 presenters. Countries that were represented at the conference included the US, Canada, Hawai'i, Taiwan, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Aotearoa/New Zealand.

"New Zealand's rich history and culture provided a unique experience for NAISA conference delegates," said Tourism New Zealand Business Events' global manager, Anna Fennessy.

"New Zealand was extremely proud to host the renowned event and benefited greatly from the knowledge exchange and networking it provided our experts," Fennessy concluded.

Professor Brendan Hokowhitu, Dean of the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, was instrumental in securing the event.

"The size and success of the conference has been beyond my wildest dreams," said Hokowhitu.

"The conference, the excitement and buzz generated around campus and the city has been amazing, with nothing but overwhelmingly positive feedback coming back to us about the registrants' experiences at the conference, the University, the city, the Waikato and more broadly Aotearoa," Hokowhitu added.

Hamilton and Waikato Tourism Convention Bureau's manager Amanda Graham says that early indications suggest the event could be worth NZ$4 million in economic benefit to the region.

"We were initially expecting 700 delegates, so the unprecedented higher than expected numbers meant that accommodation was full. The city was bustling with culture," said Graham.

Hokowhitu agrees that the event placed the University on the world stage. Some 115 students and 40 staff from the university were involved across the event.