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From Mince Pie to Dubai - 15-16 November 2021 

Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Chairman Update  

Last night Sunday, in Dubai we went and watched the T20 World Final between NZ and OZ. It's history now but OZ won and we don't mind. Amongst a fan crowd of say ten thousand at the stadium, Kiwis and Ozzies were hopelessly out numbered.  So we worked together applauding each other's hits and catches, high fiving every highlight and the result was of little consequence (to us anyway) as the rare camaraderie between supporters and players alike was elevated to new levels... until the next time when we are all closer to home.

 

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We then shot of to our hotels where we are leafed and briefed on our torrid schedule before heading for a well-earned breakfast. Time 7am (UAE time).  The rest of the morning is filled with interviews and briefings by officials and locals alike.  Time rushes by until noon where everyone goes for well-earned moe.  But I've just slept 6 hours straight on the plane - the longest I've slept for months!  So head off to rehydrate while others go shopping, sightseeing and tasting local and exotic cuisines while some of us go to the cricket. The taxi drivers here are Nuts! They speed, brake hard, cut anyone else off, get stopped and ticketed by the cops which only makes them nuttier!  Our ride to the cricket took us through alleyways, new building sites with workers diving for cover and dust flying like an aerial crop sprayer. But we got there 20 minutes faster than the others who left way before us!  Back after cricket we have a review of the day on the level 4 bar and agree it was the right thing to do... I'm going to write to the Black Caps to tell them we are so proud of them.

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Hayden Hape (Tamaki Nui a Rua), Danielle Keil, Mere and I, and Paddy Mason (Kahungunu ki Wairarapa - Wero NZ Manuka Honey)

That morning at 4.30am we arrived here after a 19 hour flight with a stopover in Kuala Lumpar.  It's easier to leave the Dubai airport, one of the busiest in the world than leaving the local supermarket. We gather as a group before we leave, have a mihi by Martin Wikaera, karakia by Hoturoa Kerr-Barkley and a stirring waiata by Kahurangi who stops the flowing airport throng in its tracks with its beauty and vibrance prompting one the Indian bus drivers to say “the Maoris are back in town".  

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Tuesday morning we are up at 6am and ready for a formal (which means informal) powhiri by the local Sheik Majiid AL Qasinni.  We walk through the Waharoa then karanga and karakia and takutaku through the 7 minute walk down the Whanganui Awa. With water hissing down the walls and images of the river rushing down through cliff- lined gorges you have to rebalance so you don't fall in!

In the Whare Nui we are welcomed by Hayden Turoa and Sheena Maru from Te Atihaunui a Paparangi. Hoturoa replies on our behalf followed by Clayton Kimpton, NZ Ambassador of the NZ Pavilion in charge at the Expo, then Sheik Majiid who gives us insights into Emirati ambition having come from a hunting gathering, nomadic and fishing people to one of the strongest trading economies in the world. The key is strong leadership with ancient and modern wisdoms and while advancing the people now, also taking “moonshots” for the future.  We then did interviews with TV One with Maiki Sherman.   About 6pm we are invited to the Canadian Pavilion, then we watch Kahurangi who are supporting the Canadian indigenous performers. 9ish, we yawn ourselves back to the hotel to debrief once more before fainting off to bed.

Wednesday up at 6am and I'm  re-interviewed on live Expo TV at the Expo sight which is boomed throughout the world but with international reporters and channels zooming in live and with a huge media presence in the room as well. Some say you could have heard a pin drop. After 15 minutes or so it's over and I return to the waiting room. The Emirati Minister of Communications can't stop pumping my hand afterward and he adopts me as his brother.  I'm hugged and kissed by peeps who I don't know, who were listening and watching, their tears flowing down cheeks. "Shucks" I think, "if I said these at home I’d be told to sit down and shut up!" Throughout the day the backslaps and high fives continue so do the tears. That night we have dinner with Sheikh Omar Mohamed Obaid Mohamed AL Ghfeli who hosted us with a true Bedouin powhiri in the middle of the desert.  We go to an Emirati restaurant which serves traditional cuisine only to be told by Omar "it's Egyptian".  Ok ok... we get it - not all Arabs are the same or do they eat the same foods.

 

He was a genial host, telling stories and parables rather than giving straight answers.  All our team had 1 on 1 banters with Omar poking, probing and prodding each other that normally ended with laughter or a deal or a bet. Fed and watered we stagger back to our hotel for another debrief...

 

Shukraan! 

Te Aratini can be watched from anywhere in the world and is live-streamed. Click here to link into the Virtual World Expo - This is the platform to view it from. Te Aratini will feature inside this platform when it starts. 17-19 November Dubai Time (They're 9 hours behind us here in Aotearoa) 

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