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The New Zealand Pavilion

The Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion is designed to be an immersive experience that conveys the theme Care for People and Place, based on kaitiakitanga, the indigenous Māori ethos of connection to the natural environment.

The innovative architectural design of the pavilion points to the connection between people and the environment. The building has an audible and visual ‘pulse’ and the façade will move in time with a low-frequency sound to create a rippling pulse effect.

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Visitors will enter into a sense of their own connection with the natural world and experience Aotearoa New Zealand’s innovations, including the legal personhood status accorded to the Whanganui River in 2017 to uphold at law the river as Te Awa Tupua, a living and indivisible whole, to better provide for the river’s health and wellbeing.

The pavilion shows how New Zealanders are driven to innovate because we Care for People and Place – and it is this understanding of our connection and responsibility to the environment that motivates us to do better for future generations.

In the Māori ethos, everything has ‘mauri’, or life principle. The mauri of the pavilion, story and experience was dedicated at a ritual performed by Whanganui Iwi tribal members the day before  Expo 2020 Dubai opened.

For the six months of Expo 2020, the mauri will be centred on a toka (boulder) sitting inside the pavilion, sourced from Mount Tongariro which stands in the central North Island of New Zealand, where main stem of the Whanganui River rises. The mauri that was imbedded into the exhibition is called “Te Awa Karihi”, the life-giving waters flowing from the river’s source.  When Expo is finished, the mauri along with the toka, will be returned to Tongariro and to the Whanganui River.

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New Zealand architects Jasmax led the global multi-disciplinary design consortium, designed the pavilion and visitor experience concept. Haumi, in partnership with Jasmax, led the cultural design aspects of the building.

Development and delivery of the visitor experience was through the collaboration of Haumi, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi and Workshop e. The pavilion’s kinetic façade is designed by Kaynemaile.  

The architectural concept for the pavilion was inspired by waka taonga, receptacles made by Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, to safe-guard items of considerable intrinsic value. The beautifully carved containers called waka huia and papahou, are important cultural symbols for protection and the maintenance of values and practices. They were gifted to strengthen relationships, create new partnerships and maintain traditions and stories from one generation to the next.

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This waka huia is finely carved all over with pākati (dog tooth pattern) notches, haehae (parallel grooves), and double rauru spirals.


Source: Te Papa Tongarewa

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The terminal ends of the base have a crouched male figure at one end and a crouched female figure at the other.


Source: Te Papa Tongarewa

The pavilion is New Zealand’s waka taonga - a receptacle for essential aspects of our identity and values.

The design uses the waka taonga as a way of bringing people together, and it reflects the 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future' theme of Expo 2020 Dubai.

​New Zealand’s gift to the world is our kaitiakitanga, our Care for People and Place.