Shanghai Expo 2010: The New Zealand Pavilion

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The 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai is the first registered one in a developing country. Officially known as “Expo Shanghai 2010,” it will last 184 days and provide China an opportunity to show off its remarkable economic growth. The expo will also give foreign nations and companies a chance to further develop business partnerships with China and Chinese companies. This is the twenty-first in an ongoing series that will look at the expo from country pavilions to trade development. In this article, we take a look at the New Zealand Pavilion.

By Joe Drury

May 21 – According to the Maori creation legend, Tane-Muhata, the god of forests created the world we inhabit by forcefully separating his parents, the Sky and the Earth, from their eternal embrace. The New Zealand government has spent US$30 million to translate this story into a pavilion to express the theme “Cities of Nature: Living between Land and Sky.”The 2,000 square foot pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo,  is full of references to Maori culture, a nod to the indigenous peoples’ influence on New Zealand identity.

“With our unique cultural heritage, the New Zealand Pavilion will have a special quality,” Commissioner General Phillip Gibson said at the pavilion’s opening ceremony in April. “We look forward to welcoming and sharing this with our Chinese friends.”

Within the main entrance sits a huge 1,800-kilogram jade boulder. The boulder acts as an initial connecting point between New Zealand and China, as jade plays a significant role in both Chinese and Maori cultures.

Another eye-catching feature is the 10-meter waka canoe currently being carved by Kiwi artists. Waka had a variety of uses in New Zealand’s indigenous culture, from fishing vessels to oceanic exploration.

The waka in front of the pavilion will be purely ceremonial. It is made from a 3,500-year-old Kauri tree, and will be given to China by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on July 9, New Zealand’s national day at the expo.

The inside of the pavilion further develops the creation story by leading visitors through a multimedia exhibit of a little girl dreaming of Rangi and Papa, the Sky god and Earth goddess, later exploring a day in the life of her family as symbols from her dream are revisited throughout the day.

Finally, a lush rooftop garden displays alpine mountain grasses, ponga tree ferns and the vibrantly red Pohutukawa tree. A steaming thermal pool will incorporate bubbles to represent air coming from the throat of Ruaumoko, the youngest son of Rangi and Papa and the god of the Maori underworld.

Of course, New Zealand has other reasons for participating in the Expo rather than merely sharing a creation story. One of the main objectives of New Zealand’s decision to take part in the expo was to develop and strengthen trade links between New Zealand businesses and China’s dynamic economy. Bilateral trade for 2010 is estimated at US$2.4 billion.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase ourselves in a country that is increasingly critical to our economic wellbeing,” Gibson said in an April interview with Dominion Post.

Bilateral relations between New Zealand and China are generally cooperative. In past years, economic, trade, and foreign policy talks between officials have been expanding on a variety of issues, from agriculture to clean technology.

Perhaps the most notable economic story between the two countries is the New Zealand China Free Trade Agreement (NZ-China FTA), which entered into force on Oct. 1, 2008.

The agreement, China’s first FTA with a developed country, eliminates tariffs on 96 percent of New Zealand’s current exports to China, effectively saving an annual US$115 million in duty savings. In return, nearly 60 percent of China’s exports will become duty free in the next six years.

For New Zealand businesses, the Shanghai Expo will provide yet another avenue to make inroads into the Chinese market.

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