China New Zealand Year of Tourism celebrated

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

As the Opening of the Doors to China’s West Forum continues, Te Wehi Haka has been dazzling the people of Xi’an City. The haka group caused a sensation at the "New Zealand Showcase", a pop-up store on the pedestrian Great Tang All Day Mall for exporters to exhibit their products and services for the display and the sale to the public.

Xi'an is referred to as China's historical capital and has 8.3% GDP growth.

Twelve million people live in Xi'an China, one of the oldest cities in the country's history and home of the imperial Tang Dynasty which ruled for 2000 years.

Te Wehi Haka performer Ariana Potae said, “I grew up in the haka world from when I was just a baby, in Manutuke, with my family and all of my relations, I then went under the wing of Ngapo and Pimia Wehi, then on to Te Manu Huia and then made it to Te Waka Huia and that's where we are, we're here, Te Wehi Haka”.

A delegation of New Zealanders are exploring business and tourism in China's West, including the renown terracotta warriors made in 246 BC.

Hoki-mai Chong (Tainui), speaking for NZ Māori Tourism says, “Xi'an is probably the gateway to Chinese culture it's just so steeped in Chinese culture here with the Terracotta Warriors, and it provides a great opportunity for that hononga (connection) between the two”.

Chong has found that the Chinese way of doing business is not so different from Māori.

“When it comes to business it's about relationships first and then business, whereas mainstream it's a little more about doing the deal straight away, so there's an affinity there”.

The Te Wehi Haka crew found the locals to be respectful and hospitable.

“Everyone here are really open and fond of us, they always look after us Māori whenever come here”, said Ariana Potae.

Te Wehi Haka led the delegation on to a special Chinese performance that previous the unique Chinese Cultural Heritage of the Ancient Imperial Tang Dynasty.

Tapeta Wehi commented, “The difference of the costumes, the great number of characters, and this performance thing is not new to them and they're up there”.

An official welcome saw more than 500 'Kiwis' visit Xi'an for a special reception with the Deputy Governor of the Shaanxi province and Chinese cultural performances.

The Māori cultural group Te Wehi Haka helped establish the cultural connection with the Kiwi travelers, the business delegation and Chinese officials. 

The journey has been insightful for Te Wehi Haka performers, many of whom are young.

“As the saying goes they are the leaders of tomorrow, perhaps they will take their own groups overseas so that they don't forget these lessons”, said Wehi.

Ariana Potae maintains that these trips are an opportunity to showcase Te Reo Māori and culture across the globe, “We must share it, we must share our language, our noble language, that's the reason we stand and perform, to share haka with the world and let the world know that's what we're doing here”.