Date Created: July 22, 2022
A special ceremony has been held in Whanganui this week that recognises the contribution of Whanganui Iwi to the New Zealand story and pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai.
The New Zealand pavilion at the international event showcased a theme of kaitiakitanga and caring for people and place, which was based on the example of Te Awa Tupua and the relationship local Iwi have with the Whanganui River.
The Expo ran from October 2021 to March 2022 and attracted more than one-million visitors, putting Whanganui on the international stage.
On Thursday, the journey drew to a close - a small delegation from New Zealand Trade Enterprise (NZTE) gathered with local kaumātua to officially return the mouri to the Awa at Te Ao Hou Marae in Whanganui.
“Today, represented the closing of a three-year loop beginning with wānanga in the Awa, involving a creative process in Aotearoa spread across multiple creative and design teams, extending to implementation in Dubai for six months, and finally back to the Awa to conclude the work with the return of the mouri to its origin,” Project Director Gerrard Albert said.
“The mouri for the creative work, the story and pavilion experience showcasing Te Awa Tupua was named “Te Awa Karihi”, the life-giving waters flowing form the pūtake, or source, of the Awa.”
In September 2021, a tangaengae ceremony was conducted by a small group of nine Whanganui Iwi members in Dubai, whereupon the mouri was left in the care of NZTE for the duration of the Expo.
“As successful as our work upholding the integrity of Te Awa Tupua for Expo 2020 was, it was but one of many projects and efforts ongoing that we are driving as a people to have the mana of our Awa and its people upheld.”
Following the pōwhiri and kapu tī on Thursday, young people who went to Dubai last year gave a presentation, which was followed by speeches from NZTE and Whanganui Iwi.
Work first began on the partnership in 2018, when NZTE sought permission from Te Pou Tupua and Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui to use Te Awa Tupua as a theme for the New Zealand Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai.
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