Māori spearheading representation of indigenous people to Japan

updated By Stefan Dimitrof

A cultural and business delegation made up of Māori and Pacific members is in Japan to explore opportunities that would be available in the upcoming Osaka Expo in 2025.

Te Aratini began as an initiative between the government and Māori for the Dubai Expo in 2021.

Ngahiwi Tomoana of Ngāti Kahungunu is kaihautū for Te Aratini on behalf of the National Iwi Chairs who govern the group and over the past week has visited Tokyo, Osaka and Beppu.

Tomoana said the New Zealand government has decided against a pavilion at the Osaka Expo.

Disappointed New Zealand won’t be there

“As a part of a developing nation inside of a developed nation, we are not speaking just on behalf of the tribes of Aotearoa, we have Pacific representatives there too. We are also representing the first nations' peoples of Canada, Australia, USA, Malaysia, UAE and other places as well.”

Tomoana said that the first goal of their visit was to reconnect with the Ainu people of Japan and present themselves to the Japanese government and governmental departments, which had been a positive experience so far.

“We met the expo organisers and they have given us the thumbs up. They are disappointed New Zealand won’t be here but they are excited Māori and other indigenous people will be here.”

Tomoana said they had offered to sail a waka up to the event to act as a floating pavilion instead of not having a country pavilion built.

“Māori have unique value in the world and in our country, of course, but also among other indigenous people at the moment. We are spearheading the relationship with Japan on behalf of all other indigenous people.”