Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion welcomes 1.24 million visitors during Expo 2020 Dubai

New Zealand’s bilateral relations bolstered by participation at mega event


New Zealand is celebrating its participation in Expo 2020 Dubai and reflecting on its achievements during the six-month mega event. From October 2021 to March 2022, the country showcased to the world how it innovates to ‘Care for People and Place’ while also extending trade and investment links with the region, strengthening bilateral relations, promoting the country as a destination for international education and tourism, and sharing its story with 1.24 million visitors through an immersive visitor experience and pavilion restaurant.

Located in Expo 2020 Dubai’s Sustainability District, the pavilion’s theme was based on the indigenous Māori environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga, the understanding that humans and nature are inextricably connected.


The pavilion featured a dramatic River Room, inspired by the Whanganui River, which in 2017 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. This ‘Care for People and Place’ was reflected in all aspects of New Zealand’s Expo 2020 Dubai journey – from its pavilion experience detailing the country’s innovative approach to solving global challenges tothe pavilion’s restaurant and the cultural and business events hosted during the six months.

Commenting on New Zealand’s participation, New Zealand’s Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 Dubai, Clayton Kimpton said: “It has been an honour for New Zealand to participate at Expo 2020 Dubai and to share our nation’s story with the world. To have 1.24 million people, which is about 25 per cent of our population, visit the pavilion is a true privilege. We are proud of our team – who became our whānau, or family – and who each contributed to making this a highly successful event. I would like to commend the United Arab Emirates and Expo 2020 Dubai leadership for delivering such a magnificent event where the world was able to connect and discuss the future we want and how we will collectively get there.”

Tiaki, New Zealand’s licensed pavilion restaurant, operated by Emirates Flight Catering, welcomed more than 40,000 diners who experienced the outstanding quality and taste of the country’s food and beverage, including Fonterra’s Kāpiti cheese, Comvita Mānuka honey, salmon, lamb, venison, and the much-loved pavlova dessert with Zespri kiwifruit. “Tiaki” (meaning to care, safeguard, protect and preserve in te reo Māori), was a stand-out feature of New Zealand’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, highlighting its world-leading production of premium food and beverage products, which are made with care and exported to more than 120 countries.


As part of New Zealand’s efforts to continue to bolster trade, economic and diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates a number of events were held at the New Zealand avilion and Expo 2020. This included visits by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Trade and Export Growth. The eighth Joint Economic Committee was hosted at the New Zealand pavilion where seven tracks of cooperation between New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates were agreed. Arrangements on food security and on export credit were also signed at the pavilion.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs’ visit in November included an opportunity to host the inaugural Te Aratini Festival of Indigenous and Tribal Ideas that brought together more than 50 speakers from around the world at Expo 2020.


“Expo 2020 Dubai has allowed us to strengthen our economic, strategic and diplomatic ties with the UAE and other participants and we are extremely grateful to the UAE for hosting such a spectacular event. An exemplary showcase of global collaboration, innovation, and cooperation, ‘the world’s largest meeting’ will live on as a legacy for years to come, not only here in the region, but across the globe,” said Matthew Hawkins, New Zealand’s Ambassador to the UAE.


Expo 2020 Dubai also presented New Zealand with an opportunity to grow its economy through increased trade and investment, particularly for its rapidly growing export sectors in agritech, healthcare, manufacturing, and food and beverage. During the six months of Expo 70 New Zealand exporters travelled to Dubai to engage with international business leaders, promote innovations and seek investment as part of New Zealand Trade & Enterprise’s Expo Business Leverage Programme, resulting in new business opportunities and promising connections.


Kevin McKenna, New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner in UAE and Qatar, and Consul General in Dubai, UAE commented: “Expo 2020 Dubai has provided New Zealand with a unique opportunity to pursue new market expansion and showcase our goods and services to new customers. Our Business Leverage Programme has resulted in New Zealand companies striking deals in the region and we expect more to follow as the business relationships built throughout Expo 2020 Dubai come to fruition.”

Showcasing New Zealand’s standing as an inclusive and multicultural society, the country hosted 34 cultural performances curated by internationally renowned superstar Parris Goebel, creative director of the country’s entertainment and cultural programme for Expo 2020. The line-up included some of the country’s most celebrated singers, dancers, and artists including top-selling band, Six60, kapa haka performances and a specially curated production from the future of New Zealand’s performing arts – Wonderland - Voice of Youth.


New Zealand joined the international conversation during a variety of thematic discussions that explored humanity’s most critical challenges and opportunities from a cultural, social, and environmental perspective as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s ‘Programme for People and Planet’. Experts from New Zealand participated in 17 World Majlis, sharing the country’s innovative approach to problem solving on global issues across subjects including climate and biodiversity, food, agriculture and livelihoods, diversity and inclusion and health and wellness.


One of New Zealand’s priorities during Expo 2020 Dubai was ensuring its event participation was carbon-neutral. The country worked with Toitū Envirocare to calculate the likely greenhouse gas emissions through its certification programme and then put a plan in place to minimise these and offset the remainder that could not be avoided, such as air travel and vehicle emissions.


The Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion 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. It also took home the ‘Highly Commended’ award for Favourite Expo Restaurant Concept at this year’s What’s On Dubai Awards – the region’s coveted hospitality honours that represent the benchmark for success.


To enable the beginning of the decommissioning process of the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion, a cultural ceremony of closure was performed at the pavilion on the evening of 31 March and attended by pavilion staff.