Aotearoa New Zealand’s Foreign Minister visits Expo 2020 Dubai

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Hon. Nanaia Mahuta visited the United Arab Emirates over three days in November in support of New Zealand’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai and to co-host Te Aratini, Festival of Indigenous and Tribal Ideas.


Minister Mahuta toured the Aotearoa New Zealand Pavilion, which is themed Care for People and Place, inspired by the Whanganui River and the centrepiece of New Zealand’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Held during Expo 2020’s Tolerance and Inclusivity theme week, Te Aratini brought together Indigenous people from all corners of the world to foster a deeper understanding of Indigenous and Tribal peoples’ economies. Talks and panel discussions over three days examined the converging roles of culture, commerce, community and conservation.


Speaking at the opening of Te Aratini, Minister Mahuta acknowledged the strong bond New Zealand shares with the United Arab Emirates, two countries that are connected through culture:

“We also both celebrate diversity, our countries each boasting more than 200 different nationalities amongst our residents. And we have a strong, shared ambition to create a more sustainable future for all, shown through the UAE’s leadership in bringing the world together for Dubai Expo 2020 and the generosity in support Aotearoa New Zealand’s participation.”

Minister Mahuta toured the United Arab Emirates pavilion and met with the UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, H.E. Norah bint Mohammad Al Kaabi. The pair discussed issues of mutual interest for New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates regarding youth, enterprise, Covid-19, Expo 2020 and Indigenous relations.

While at Expo 2020, Minister Mahuta took the opportunity to visit several other country pavilions, and was warmly received by friends from the Pacific at the pavilions of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

Minister Mahuta congratulated the UAE on the successful hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai and discussed areas for future cooperation with H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai and Minister of State for International Cooperation, and H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Minister Mahuta also took part in a Visions and Journeys discussion at the Women’s Pavilion which looks toward a more gender equal future. There, she shared her experiences of being the first woman and first Indigenous woman to hold the position of New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and conveyed stories of inspiration from the women in her family and her children.

“There is not a place for success for some women and not others. When we lift other women up, they will in turn lift other women up. Together, we rise.”

Watch: Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, Live From the Women's Pavilion | World Expo (virtualexpodubai.com)

At Te Aratini, Minister Mahuta spoke about the role of indigenous women’s leadership and global affairs, alongside Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Dr. Hinemoa Elder, child and adolescent psychiatrist and author.


“When I think about the toolkit I take with me, it is around the lived experience and the wisdom of the marae, the nannies and the koros, the aunties and uncles, and what I’ve learnt over time. Another key element will be education, my mother always believed that education was a pathway to opportunity. Perspective is another key element of my toolkit, because I have great appreciation for other cultures. The more you understand your own culture, the more you can appreciate other cultures and that makes a difference too.”