A thrilling start to the year | January and February at the New Zealand Pavilion

In true Expo 2020 fashion, 2022 kicked off with a bang as we got stuck into what was set to be our busiest month yet! January was filled with an exciting schedule of events, from Taste New Zealand and live street art to a vibrant entertainment and culinary line-up for our Expo National Day celebrations on 31 January.

February switched the focus to how we can sustainably grow food to meet future needs, with several New Zealand speakers joining conversations during Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week. We’re also delighted to announce that we have welcomed more than 900,000 visitors to our pavilion and Tiaki restaurant, and are well on our way to hitting the 1 million visitors mark!

Didn’t get the chance to join all the fun? Here’s everything the New Zealand Pavilion got up to at Expo 2020 in January and February.

Taste New Zealand | 13-30 January

What better way to begin a new year than with a celebration of all things food?! We did exactly that at the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion with Taste New Zealand – a three-week culinary showcase of our nation’s premium food and beverage offering from 13-31 January.

Featuring some of our nation’s most talented chefs, the festival included live cooking demonstrations and challenges, special dishes at Tiaki restaurant and curated dinners in collaboration with The Tasting Class, introducing New Zealand’s diverse and delicious culinary landscape. Some of New Zealand’s top wines were also on show alongside Antipodes water.

We were lucky to have Chef Sid Sahrawat of Cassia and Sid at The French Café fame and MasterChef New Zealand winners Kārena and Kasey Bird join us for the first and final weeks of Taste New Zealand, with Dubai-based Jesse Blake of Lowe restaurant taking the lead during the second week. Our Tiaki chefs Laura-Jane, Michael and Esther also joined in the action, cooking up some of Tiaki’s favourite dishes in the demonstration kitchen.

Read more about Taste New Zealand: Taste New Zealand: Three weeks of food, beverage and culinary talent at the New Zealand Pavilion (nzatexpo.govt.nz)

‘Voice of Youth’ Wonderland | 23-26 January

Two of Expo 2020’s biggest stages were lit up by a spectacular performance – ‘Voice of Youth’ Wonderland. ‘Wonderland’ featured young New Zealand talent aged 16-to-18 handpicked by Parris Goebel’steam through live auditions conducted in 2021 as well as members of the Royal Family Dance Crew. Exploring the multi-faceted feelings and scenes which define one’s “Voice of Youth” this fun and powerful show explored themes and issues relevant to young people around the world today, such as friendships, self-love and the impact of technology.

Musical hits including “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, “Reflection” from Mulan, “This Is Me” from The Greatest Showman film and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” had crowds reflecting on their youth and then dancing out of their seats!

Live Street Art | 27-31 January

Leading up to our National Day, Expo 2020’s Al Forsan Park came alive with the sounds of DJ Sir-Vere and the mesmerising sight of five talented street artists from Aotearoa New Zealand uniting to create an incredible 20-metre mural.

Kairau ‘Haser’ Bradley and Earnest ‘Tawck GBAK’ Bradley and youth artists John Crouch Eva Fuemana from New Zealand were joined by Dubai-based kiwi Gary Yong aka ‘Enforce One’ to produce the artwork as part of our Entertainment and Cultural Programme for Expo 2020.

The artists were given five days to create the artwork and having not worked together as a group before, what developed over the week was more than a physical artwork – the project created lifelong connections and friendships, sparked new work opportunities, and left an enduring legacy of Care for People and Place.

Meet the artist and check out the final installation here: Meet the street artists behind the Al Forsan Park installation (nzatexpo.govt.nz)

National Day | 31 January

We ended the busy and brilliant month of January with our Expo 2020 National Day. The festivities began at Al Wasl Plaza with an official ceremony hosted by Expo 2020. In the presence of Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai, the ceremony included both countries’ flag raising followed by speeches from Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director, Commissioner General Office, Expo 2020 Dubai, and Matthew Hawkins, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

Once the sun went down, the line-up of entertainment begun with performances by Moses MacKay from New Zealand’s beloved Sol3 Mio alongside Ludwig Treviranus, London-based kapa haka group Ngāti Rānana, and a grand finale by headline act Six60, one of the nations best-loved bands.

Discover more: Aotearoa New Zealand celebrates ‘Care for Culture’ at its Expo 2020 Dubai National Day (nzatexpo.govt.nz)

Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week | 17-23 February

New Zealand joined the conversation during Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week one of 10 Theme Weeks anchoring the Programme for People and Planet at Expo 2020 Dubai. From World Majlis discussions to a Plant and Food Research photo-story exhibition at the New Zealand Pavilion, several New Zealand organisations and thought leaders explored the question: how do we sustainably grow food to meet future demand?

New Zealand co-curated a World Majlis on The Value of Food where participants included New Zealand’s Louise Nash, CEO and Founder of Circularity, and Dr Miranda Mirosa, Food Waste expert at the University of Otago, along with speakers from Australia, Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. With as much as one-third of the total food on the planet lost or wasted, the World Majlis looked at the need to redesign our food systems to work with nature to reduce loss and waste. A recording of the World Majlis is available online here: World Majlis | The Value of Food | World Expo (virtualexpodubai.com)

On 21 February, New Zealand partnered with Dubai Chamber of Commerce to deliver a Thematic Business Forum in collaboration with other participating nations. The forum features an incredible line-up of speakers including Hon. Damien O’Connor, the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture and Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall, the New Zealand Minister for Food Safety, virtually.

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