NZTE and Whanganui Iwi partner for Expo 2020 Dubai

The indigenous environmental ethos of kaitiakitanga will be the underlying theme of New Zealand’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, inspired by the world-first legal status accorded to the Whanganui River.   In 2017 the Whanganui River was recognised as a living entity, called Te Awa Tupua, by virtue of innovative legislation that obligates the government, local authorities and all communities of the River to work together under Tupua Te Kawa, the innate values of Te Awa Tupua. These values encapsulate Whanganui Iwi kaitiakitanga.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Whanganui Iwi, via its governance entity Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui, have signed a memorandum that acknowledges the mana (status) and integrity of Te Awa Tupua, ahead of the development of the New Zealand pavilion experience in Dubai.  

Themed Care for People and Place; the pavilion is based on the deep connection between people and the natural world which lies at the core of the kaitiakitanga ethos.

New Zealand’s Commissioner General for Expo 2020 Dubai, Clayton Kimpton says, “We are humbled to include, on behalf of all New Zealanders, a universal story inspired by the example of Te Awa Tupua.” 

“At Expo 2020 we will show our country as a contemporary, forward-thinking nation that has come full circle to recognising that values such as kaitiakitanga are at the heart of caring for people and place. The interplay of values, business, technologies and creative storytelling, will provide an engaging and inspirational platform for New Zealand to speak to the world.”  

Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Chair, Gerrard Albert, says “Te Awa Tupua heralded a paradigm shift toward recognising we are part of the natural environment. We are sharing the provenance of Te Awa Tupua to guide what we want be a confronting and life affirming experience for those visiting the New Zealand pavilion.” 

“We are awakening as a nation to both domestic and global realities, so the story needs to cover the journey we’ve taken as a nation to arrive at this point and the journey ahead of us.” 

A series of business events and an entertainment and cultural programme are being developed to enhance the New Zealand pavilion and participation at Expo 2020. 

Expo 2020 runs for six months from October 2020.


Photo: Photograph at signing ceremony (left to right): New Zealand’s Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 Clayton Kimpton; Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Chair Gerrard Albert; Te Urumanao Gardiner; NZTE CEO and New Zealand at Expo 2020 Steering Group Chair Peter Chrisp; Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui Trustee, Joey Allen