Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion recognised in EXHIBITOR Magazine World Expo Awards

We are proud to share that the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion has received recognition in three categories in the recent EXHIBITOR Magazine World Expo Awards. The awards honour the most impressive work from Expo 2020 Dubai and aim to spotlight some of the best pavilions across 12 categories.

The River Room – where our pavilion’s story of the Whanganui River / Te Awa Tupua comes to life – was awarded an Honourable Mention for Best Exhibit / Display. Our unique theme of Care for People and Place is inspired by the world-first legal status accorded to the Whanganui River. In 2017, the Whanganui River was recognised at law as a living and indivisible whole, called Te Awa Tupua – an innovative legislative solution to ensuring the River will be healed. The provenance of Te Awa Tupua is a universal narrative that conveys the importance of our relationship with natural resources and our relationship as people with one another.

An experience developed in collaboration with Whanganui iwi (tribe) Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, the River Room is a tranquil yet powerful space that welcomes visitors to truly connect with the awa (river). In this darkened space, sheets of water fall nine metres from the ceiling to the floor, creating a space for contemplation of the whakataukī ‘Ko te awa te mātāpuna o te ora, He wai toiora, mātūtūai te tangata | The river is our essence, When it is healed, we are healed’. At the centre of the room is a mauri toka (stone) brought from the upper reaches of Mount Tongariro, where the main stem of the Whanganui River rises.

An international panel of multidisciplinary design, marketing, and events experts were tasked with judging dozens of Expo 2020 Dubai pavilions across the 12 categories. They commented:

  • What a beautiful, immersive, almost meditative space. Very impactful.

  • This room sends a powerful and unique message in a very artful and nuanced way.

  • New Zealand knocked it out of the park with the River Room. 

  • The River Room is a tranquil and memorable addition to the pavilion and a must-see among the Expo 2020 Pavilions.

In addition to this Honourable Mention, the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion was a finalist in two categories – Best Medium Pavilion and Best Interpretation of Theme. Our theme of Care for People and Place also took inspiration from New Zealand’s indigenous environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga – the connection and responsibility between people and the natural world.

To discover the River Room and our pavilion virtually, visit: New Zealand at Expo 2020 Dubai - Virtual Pavilion Experience (