Wow what a night! The China New Zealand Year of Tourism official closing ceremony was held a few weeks ago in Guangzhou here in China. This was a wonderful event with many distinguished guests from New Zealand and China. Including Hon Kelvin Davis, Minister Luo of the Chinese Government New Zealand Ambassador Clare Fernley.
As mentioned in a lot of Hon Kelvin Davis’s speech, Guangzhou is not as strange as it seems to hold this event, as opposed to Beijing or Shanghai. As Minster Davis said “New Zealand chose Guangzhou for tonight’s event because we want to acknowledge the important, multi-faceted relationship New Zealand shares with Guangdong. Firstly, Guangdong is our largest source of tourists and students from China.” This is no small feat.
It was also very exciting for me on a personal level as I had heard a lot about Guangzhou and in my work with Silvereye for New Zealand Chinese Language Week, we ran a competition with China Southern to send five winners from New Zealand to Guangzhou! So finally, I was able to see the city for myself that I spent so long promoting. I was also just thrilled to be escaping the cold Beijing winter and heading to the balmy south of China. They really are worlds apart.
The closing ceremony was held in the Canton tower which is the second tallest tower in the world. This was spectacular and the view of the city scape all lit up like a show really set the tone for a marvelous evening. We arrived at the reception at the bottom of the tower where I was thrilled to be surrounded by so many Kiwis! It was such a treat to have a little taste of home.
Following on, the night ensued into the early hours with great food (pavlova included), amazing entertainment from both New Zealand and China and a buzz in the room to close what has been a very successful China New Zealand Year of Tourism.
I particularly loved watching the two cultures coming together here in China. Although we have a strong relationship with China, I believe on a human level there is a bit more work to do in terms of really understanding each other's culture as opposed to just economic value. Initiatives like this are a great start and I loved watching the performers on the night come together from both countries providing a melting pot of New Zealand and Chinese culture. A personal highlight for myself.
I feel so thankful to be a part of the New Zealand China community and I sincerely appreciate all these opportunities to help continue the ever-growing relationship between China and New Zealand. To finish, I would like to give a special shout out to everyone who worked on CNZYOT as I know it was a massive effort from all involved. I look forward to seeing what the future holds between these two great countries.