By Melissa Davies
A Wellington opera singer is about to take the stage for the performance of a lifetime at the opening of the World Expo in Shanghai.
Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis will feature in the closing minutes of the show, but it will not be the first time Kiwi culture captures the attention of journalists at the event.
Chinese news media reported the New Zealand pavilion has now awoken after a Maori blessing ceremony at the Shanghai Expo site.
“This is China showcasing itself to the world and it's also a fantastic opportunity for a country like New Zealand to showcase itself to China,” says NZ Commissioner General Phillip Gobson. “Which of course is a country increasingly critically important to us.”
The pavilion preview reveals what $30 million in Government funding has created - an exhibition on Kiwi life and a rooftop garden complete with Rotorua geysers.
It is a drop in the water compared to the nearly $40 billion China has spent on the Expo, but tonight New Zealand has a chance to take centre stage.
Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis is the only performer in the region that Chinese officials invited to perform in the grand opening ceremony with a kapa haka group and a distinctly Kiwi, if somewhat curious, song choice.
“Performing this wonderful piece – if you reflect back to the movie Once Were Warriors – the theme… sort of sounds kind of Chinese,” explains Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis.
He will perform just before Placido Domingo, of the Three Tenors, in front of a sold-out crowd of 15,000. The audience will include some of the world's most important dignitaries and a worldwide television audience.
“To be able to also cross over and do indigenous music such as our Maori music in this way… it's fantastic,” says Zane Te Wiremu Jarvis. “And to showcase this to the world it is going to be absolutely first class… I think we'll blow them away quite frankly.”
The spotlight will again shine on the New Zealand pavilion in July when it is scheduled to host a day of special expo events.