New Zealand gets closer to India in China

New Zealand gets close to India in China- Pansy at India Pavilion.jpgThe world’s largest bamboo dome is the theme of India’s pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.

After the official ceremonies of the New Zealand National Day held on July 9, 2010, I was grateful to the Chinese host for organising visits to three other pavilions at short request. One of these was the India Pavilion.

The average queuing time to visit these pavilions ranges from an hour to nine hours.

Our day started with a number of official formal ceremonies marking the New Zealand National Day.

In the morning, crowds gathered around the New Zealand Pavilion as a special Maori blessing and welcoming ceremony started a full day of New Zealand experience.

The centrepiece of our celebrations was the gifting of a ten metres long Waharoa, a carved entranceway in the shape of a waka that weighs several tonnes, to the people of China.

This has been carved on the forecourt of the New Zealand Pavilion by two teams of carvers from Te Puia over the past two months. The ‘Waharoa’ will be a visible and lasting symbol of the strengthening ties between New Zealand and China, and would promote the tourism and the cultural experiences that Chinese visitors can expect when they come to New Zealand.

Other events were a grand flag raising ceremony, formal speeches by Prime Minister John Key and senior Chinese officials, as well as Maori singing performances.

The finale was a beautiful banquet, which drew a nice conclusion to the New Zealand National Day celebrations.

Largest bamboo dome

Following the formal events, I visited the India Pavilion, which is in proximity to our own pavilion. A team of five hosts welcomed and escorted me as I toured the place.

I was told that the India Pavilion has the world’s largest bamboo dome, and is an architectural and engineering masterpiece. Almost hemispherical in shape, it has a diameter of 34.4 metres and reaches a height of 17 metres.

The design of this dome creatively presents the features of Indian democracy “Unity in Diversity” and symbolises the eternal harmony of life.

As the key concept of the pavilion display is Living in Harmony, Through the Ages, the building structure is cleverly designed to represent efficient use of renewable energy, as well as green and sustainable technology.

The exterior of the pavilion is clad in grass and plants, and interwoven with a set of copper plates inspired by the Tree of Life. Several solar panels on the dome provide clean energy for the interiors.

While in the pavilion, I was treated to displays of modern and ancient India, side-by-side. I learnt about India’s technology breakthroughs, and that the world’s cheapest car Tata Nano is produced and sold in India at just $US2500. I read with interest about India’s art and culture, its rich variety of dances, Bollywood movies, musical instruments, religions and famous leaders.

It was an eye opening experience.

An intriguing phenomenon

In the main display area at the centre is a central square cavity. Here, holographic images are projected onto a virtual screen. Together with audio commentary and music, the eight-minute audio-visual experience depicts how ancient Indian traditions are integrated with modern innovations, showcasing how the ancient system of Seven Chakras inspired the development of cities where traditions, customs and beliefs harmoniously co-exist.

I was intrigued as to how the audience of four sides can enjoy the light show from all sides. It is a clever use of four projectors positioned at an angle that makes it look like one image.

On a personal note, the sight of the ‘Sun Temple’ in Konark reminded me instantly of our Beehive in Wellington, drawing another connection between India and New Zealand.

After a tour of the India Pavilion, the hospitality of our host extended to a rest at their VIP lounge, and a glass of my favourite drink Mango Lassi. It was interesting that this particular version did not have its usual sweet taste to which I am used. It was very refreshing and delicious. Apparently it is an attempt to cut down on sugar.

My host was very interested to hear about my updates on our 100,000 Indian Kiwis in New Zealand, and how we have been very successful in promoting Indian festivals such as Diwali. I explained to them how India is playing an ever-increasing role in New Zealand’s economy.

Pansy Wong is New Zealand’s Ethnic Affairs Minister. The above article, exclusive to Indian Newslink demonstrates her passion for India and her people. ©

Photo : Pansy Wong at the India Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo, China on July 9, 2010.

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