Expo 2020 Dubai: Emirati officials, Maori leaders perform dawn ceremony to open New Zealand pavilion

Dubai - The ceremony began with the traditional Emirati Al Ayyala dance

By Staff report

Published: Thu 30 Sep 2021, 3:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Sep 2021, 3:39 PM

Emirati officials and Maori leaders met at dawn on Thursday for a special ceremony to dedicate Aotearoa New Zealand’s pavilion ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai's opening on Friday, October 1.

Honouring the UAE’s role as host of the Expo, Whanganui iwi tribal elders and the New Zealand delegation invited Emirati officials from Qasr Al Hosn to join the dedication ceremony, which began shortly after Fajr prayer.

The ceremony began with Al Ayyala, a traditional Emirati dance, followed by the Tangaengae ritual performed by members of Whanganui iwi.

In Maori culture, everything has ‘mauri’ or life principle of the universal order.

The Tangaengae ritual recounts the connection of humankind with the natural world and was accompanied by the beat of poi (woven balls on strings), intertwined with specific rituals to give rise to the mauri of the pavilion.

Whanganui tribal leader Gerrard Albert said: “The mauri roused by the Tangaengae will inspirit visitors to the Aotearoa New Zealand pavilion with the same sense of connection to nature as we have."

He added that the sentinel tribal proverb translates to 'I am the river, the river is me'.

"This proverb represents an innate connection with the natural world that we know all people share," he said.


>> Expo 2020 Dubai: New Zealand's 'living' façade installed

>> Expo 2020 Live: How the UAE story will be told

Located in the Sustainability District, the New Zealand pavilion invites visitors to deepen their understanding of the country through the Maori ethos of kaitiakitanga — an innate connection with the natural environment. Visitors will also gain insight into a society that is inclusive and multicultural.

More news from Expo 2020