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February 19, 2010

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NZ canoe has Expo destination

NEW Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Chinese Ambassador Zhang Limin carved a small area of the waharoa (gateway) on a canoe at a Maori farewell ceremony at Te Puia Village on the North Island resort town of Rotorua yesterday.

An official delegation bid farewell to the ceremonial canoe that will feature at this year's Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

The 10-meter-high, 3m-wide kauri waharoa in the shape of a ceremonial canoe will be shipped to Shanghai next week, where carving will be completed on the forecourt of New Zealand's national pavilion at the Expo.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said the waharoa would give pavilion visitors a chance to experience part of New Zealand's culture.

"With 70 million people expected to pass through the Expo over six months, this is an opportunity to get New Zealand in front of a mass of Chinese consumers," he said.

"The waharoa will be left behind as a legacy of the relationship between the two nations and help attract attention to New Zealand's unique culture and what we offer as a destination."

Key and Zhang helped carve a small section of the waharoa, which has been named Te Kakano (The Original Seed).

Nine carvers, including the head of Te Puia's carving school James Rickard, will spend two months in Shanghai completing the waharoa.

Te Puia Maori Cultural Village Chief Executive Te Taru White said the village was charged with the task of creating the monument in a collaborative effort with Tourism New Zealand and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage which would culminate in the presentation of the piece to Chinese officials at the Expo in July.

"The engagement of this extraordinary piece encapsulates the spirit of manaakitanga (hospitality) and koha (gifting), both of which combine to create a lasting bond between the two nations of China and New Zealand," said Te Taru.

The project name Te Kakano was significant in the growing of relations and bonds between the two nations, he said.

Key said New Zealand hoped to grab world attention through the Shanghai 2010 World Expo and attract more foreign tourists to New Zealand.

The pavilion will take visitors through a "day in the life of a New Zealand city."


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