New Zealand’s Minister of Māori Affairs Dr Pita Sharples, paid tribute to China’s phenomenal and ongoing contribution to global culture, economy and civilisation today at a meeting with Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Hui Liangyu in Beijing.
“I recall the Opening Ceremony of the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing was an unparalleled spectacle that I will remember for the rest of my life – an incredible event, celebrating a proud heritage, both ancient and modern,” said Dr Sharples.
“China’s influence continues in the auspicious Year of the Water Dragon. With the continued rise of the Dragon economies, China’s economy is at the helm.”
Dr Sharples says he is honoured to meet Vice Premier Hui for a third time, following on from his successful visit to New Zealand last September. Dr Sharples is in China leading a business delegation of successful Māori business leaders from a wide range of sectors including, forestry, agribusiness, education, food and beverage, investment and banking. Members are meeting government and commercial leaders in Beijing, Guizhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Jiangmen and Hong Kong.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations between the New Zealand and Chinese governments. Dr Sharples said Māori New Zealanders also share ancient cultural bonds with kin in Asia and China.
“Thousands of years ago our ancestors set off from Asia on a journey that saw them explore and settle nearly a third of the surface of the planet: the Pacific Ocean. Today we pay tribute to them and through them, proudly acknowledge our heritage links to Asia.”
“New Zealand’s 100% Pure brand is one that Māori have held for generations. We are people of the land, guardians. We are also business people; our Māori economy spreads across our lands and links us eternally to our ancestral, ancient tribes,” said Dr Sharples.
“China’s legacy of ancient and modern excellence is something for us to admire and aspire to.”
“Our Māori economy is represented in our delegation by business leaders and entrepreneurs keen to strengthen relationships with Asia’s Dragon economies. Our relationship grows stronger with return visits between our peoples,” Dr Sharples said.
The national museums of China and New Zealand are set to strengthen the bonds of New Zealand Māori and Chinese cultures as they prepare to exchange exhibitions later this year.
Dr Sharples says Māori elders have an ancient proverb that remains as important today in 2012 as it has for thousands of years.
“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!”
“What is the most important thing of all? It is people! It is people! It is people!”