Aotearoa New Zealand celebrates ‘Care for Culture’ at its Expo 2020 Dubai National Day

New Zealand Pavilion has welcomed more than 700,000 visitors since the start of Expo in October 2021

Aotearoa New Zealand celebrated its Expo 2020 Dubai National Day on Monday 31 January with a packed programme of cultural happenings showcasing the country’s unique talent, creativity and diversity. Guided by its Expo theme ‘Care for People and Place’, the National Day celebrations took place in key locations across Expo Park and attracted crowds of visitors throughout the day.

Her Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy (L), UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai and His Excellency Matthew Hawkins (R), New Zealand Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates during the New Zealand National Day Ceremony at Al Wasl

The day’s festivities started 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. The ceremony ended with a performance of the New Zealand National Anthem from Sol3 Mio's Moses Mackay and kapa haka by Māori cultural group Ngāti Rānana. Kapa haka is a traditional Māori performing art that combines song, dance, and chanting in a powerful and moving display that helps to facilitate meaningful connections with other cultures.

Throughout the day, Expo visitors were invited to show-stopping performances by Moses MacKay from New Zealand’s beloved Sol3 Mio alongside Ludwig Treviranus; and a grand finale concert by headline act Six60, one of the nation’s best-loved bands who brought Expo crowds to their feet with their distinctive sound that combines roots, reggae and drum & bass influences and incorporated kapa haka from Ngāti Rānana.

Commenting on the occasion, Clayton Kimpton, New Zealand’s Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 Dubai said: “Our Expo 2020 Dubai National Day has provided us with yet another opportunity to celebrate New Zealand’s creativity and innovative spirit on a global stage, and to offer visitors further insight into how we are an inclusive and multicultural society. Expo is a platform where nations come together to share their achievements and identity in a uniquely special way. We hope that visitors will continue to enjoy and appreciate a taste of Aotearoa New Zealand and the significant story that is being told as we move into the final months of this magnificent World Expo.”

Since opening its doors in October 2021, New Zealand has welcomed more than 700,000 people to its pavilion visitor experience and restaurant Tiaki. The pavilion presents a showcase of ground-breaking new technology fused with indigenous values and storytelling. Guided by the indigenous environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga, the understanding that humans and the natural world are inextricably connected, visitors are challenged to rethink their own relationship with the natural world as they journey through the pavilion.

Expo 2020 Dubai continues to present a monumental opportunity for New Zealand to strengthen its international ties and generate economic benefits through increased trade and investment, particularly for its rapidly growing export sectors of agritech, healthcare, manufacturing and food and beverage.

Matthew Hawkins, New Zealand Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said: “It’s an honour to celebrate New Zealand’s National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai – the global event has provided us with a prime opportunity to strengthen our international relationships across business, arts, and culture. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the United Arab Emirates on hosting such a significant and timely world gathering as we work together towards building a fairer, more inclusive future for all.”

New Zealand’s Care for People and Place theme also has a big focus on nurturing the country’s future generations, with youth participation forming an important part of New Zealand’s Expo programme. In addition to the spectacular “Wonderland – Voice of Youth” performance by Parris Goebel, New Zealand ran a Global Kaitiakitanga Project to mentor and support the country’s young entrepreneurs to further develop their sustainable businesses. Its apprentice chef programme also gave three talented young chefs from New Zealand the opportunity of a lifetime by working in the pavilion’s highly-regarded Tiaki restaurant.

Along with the support of youth, empowering women and promoting gender equality is another area where New Zealand is showing Care for People and Place. As a country with a long-standing commitment to gender equality and women's empowerment, New Zealand will use its experience to lead a special event in conjunction with International Women’s Day in March called ChangemakeHER, which will see inspirational females from around the world share their stories, experiences, and learnings in the hopes of inspiring future female leaders.   New Zealand’s participation in Expo 2020 is supported by corporate sponsorship from a number of iconic New Zealand brands that are known as the Care Collective, that teach have their own approach to kaitiakitanga.