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Ara-tii Ara-taa Ara-hii Ara-haa! 17-19 November 2021
Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated Chairman Update
MFAT, NZTE and TPK are heroic in their collaboration to establish Te Aratini during the 2021 Dubai World Economic Expo. 10 years ago it was a moemoea and wawata. Today it's a reality as we approach the opening session. Minister Nanaia Mahuta arrived late last night after a 22 hour flight from Jakarta, but she will turn up well before time to have a quick catch up before the Emirati Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi arrives. However they arrive at the same time, one limping to the right due to cramp after the marathon flight and the other Minister limping to the left after a recent knee replacement. I was walking straight as in the middle. Just as well they weren't on opposite sides, I would have got battered and bruised cheeks, shoulders and ribs.
Before the conference though, we must all take a covid test and another one every day we are there until we leave. The testing station is right outside the door and once they've verified who you are, the test takes about 10 seconds. Results are emailed within 6 hours and apart from wearing a mask in public places everything is all go.
Hayden Hape (Tamaki Nui a Rua), Danielle Keil, Mere and I, and Paddy Mason (Kahungunu ki Wairarapa - Wero NZ Manuka Honey)
When they get into discussions in matters of State, they talk like sisters and mothers rather than Minister to Minister. Having been a part of discussions with other Ministers on other trade missions, their interaction is very formal, very stiff and very technical. Minister Mahuta and Minister Al Kaabi do speak at high level, but with a much more intimate interaction which clearly breaks down shields and barriers and if this becomes more common amongst for our indigenous leaders of country – then the world would be better off! Minister Mahuta and Minister Al Kaabi and I open the conferences with fancy speeches of promise and potential. Then they leave for a bilateral and Te Aratini is running on its own Mauri! The inaugural participation of indigenous discussions at an international economic Expo.
Everyone here is vaccinated and all the itinerant workers too or they get kicked out.
1 million visitors arrive and leave everyday so the economy is booming. Roads and rails are being built everywhere as confidence grows. Covid tests are required twice a week so there are testing booths on every block to ensure easy access. At the start of the virus going berserk here, where 6,000 plus cases a day were recorded over 3 months. The government 20 or so mini hospitals dotted around Dubai. These were converted to testing sites then vaccination centre's now they are used for all of the above. At the cricket with 10,000 spectators, they had testing and vax centres. Due to the humidity, we were told that masks could be removed to avoid overheating which is a sign of absolute confidence in living with Covid.
Kahurangi are stellar and fantastic ambassadors here at the Expo. They are young, strapping, handsome and beautiful vigorous and sweet, smiley and radiant. Crowds flock to see them on and off stage. Last night they led us through the throngs to the NZ Pavilion and were like the pied piper followed by a healthy young mob who kept Kahurangi posing for photos for nearly an hour. Not bad for first time overseas traveller's.
Last night Wero Manuka Honey (Paddy Mason from Wairarapa), Takitimu Seafoods, Native Opinion and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated sponsored the hakari at our Pavilion. Canada, Paraguay, Scotland, Panama, Malaysia, Saami, USA and Australia (who I left out by mistake) delegates and speakers attended. The Aussies protested loudly but I said that "they are part of New Zealand - we have North and South Island and we call Aussie West Island". We belted out a few Maori classics before Hinemoa Elder read a chapter from her book Aroha. This book will be now translated into Arabic.
Most of our delegation are young, hot and hunter gatherers. Digitally savvy, they hit the ground sprinting speaking in te reo and techno- gibberish. Wahine and tane! They connect to the rest of the world on every transaction we undertake and share freely their ideas with us.
Our hakari then is a buzz of connections and concoctions, humming with excited chatter forging new friendships and fashions, operations and opportunities. We head back to our hotel dizzy and delirious for the inevitable debrief.