Hon Kelvin Davis

Speech: China-NZ Year of Tourism Closing Ceremony

Canton Tower, Guangzhou 

10 November 2019

Da jia hao.

Good evening everyone. 

I wish to acknowledge and welcome our esteemed Chinese guests. 

As the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism officially comes to a close, tonight is an opportunity to celebrate achievements, acknowledge hard work, and look forward to an even brighter future of tourism cooperation between China and New Zealand. 

China is one of New Zealand’s most important and far-reaching relationships, with ever-growing people-to-people links and a good pace of high-level political contact. We are committed to working with China to develop our relationship further. 

I am delighted to hold this event here at Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China. 

What better place to look back over the Year of Tourism than from one of the tallest structures in the world? 

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. Each year, China Southern Airlines brings increasing numbers of passengers to New Zealand. 

Last year, this was nearly a third of the total share of this market with around 170,000 passengers. 

A special thanks to the China Southern team here tonight and we acknowledge the important role you play in tourism between our two countries. 

Secondly, since we signed our first Free Trade Agreement with China in 2008, the trade relationship between our two countries has grown tremendously. China is now New Zealand’s largest trading partner. 

At the same time, Guangzhou is steadily growing to be a major export destination for New Zealand – and some of those exported products are in your dishes tonight. 

New Zealand looks forward to growing its trade relationship with Guangdong, and supporting the businesses that contribute to that relationship. 

Thirdly, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Auckland and Guangzhou.

Guangzhou is the birthplace of our earliest Chinese immigrants, and this year marks an important milestone for the people-to-people ties we share with Guangzhou.  

Tourism is an important way for people to come to understand and appreciate others’ cultures. 

To quote my counterpart, Minister Luo, “culture is the spirit of tourism, and tourism is the vehicle for culture.” 

 "wénhuà shì lǚyóu de línghún, lǚyóu shì wénhuà de zàitǐ."

The China-New Zealand Year of Tourism has been an opportunity to share and appreciate our cultures, strengthen ties between our peoples and build a strong foundation for future cooperation. 

One of our first groups of visitors from China for the Year was the Terracotta Warriors. It was an honour to host them at our national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa (the container of treasures). 

The exhibition generated great interest in China’s ancient culture and history, and attracted over 200,000 visitors.

Minister Luo was kind enough to give me a personal tour of the exhibition, which I greatly enjoyed. 

Our tourism relationship is not one-way. 

New Zealanders have long been interested in learning more about China and its people. 

500 New Zealanders travelled to China for the Opening Doors to the West Business Forum in Chengdu and the New Zealand Night Welcoming Ceremony within the Old City Walls of Xi’an, hosted by the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism. 

With an amazing performance by Te Wehi Haka, this event was an unprecedented opportunity for us to promote Māori culture in China, increasing awareness of the natural affinity between our two cultures. 

This year has not only been about showcasing our own culture – it has also been an opportunity to learn more about each other. 

In New Zealand, nearly 300 events were held to celebrate Chinese Language Week – even our sky divers took to the skies to learn a phrases to make their Chinese visitors feel welcome – “Tai Tway” everyone! 

This means “lift your legs as we land”. 

When Minister Luo visited New Zealand earlier this year, we took him to Rotorua to visit the 117 year-old Redwood Tree forest; the ancient fortified Māori village Te Puia Pā, and also to Rainbow Springs – the largest kiwi bird hatchery in the world. 

At the hatchery, Ngai Tahu presented Minister Luo with the gift of naming a newly born baby kiwi, which he named “Liang Liang”: meaning “Bright Future”. 

As the Year of Tourism comes to a close, we look to Liang Liang – who is thriving – as a symbol of all the potential for cooperation between New Zealand and China in tourism. 

Speaking of cooperation, the Year of Tourism has produced a number of exciting partnerships… there are too many to list, so I will focus on what is happening outside right now. 

Tomorrow is Singles Day in China, the biggest shopping holiday in the world, which generated $30.8 billion USD in sales in just 24 hours last year.

Tourism New Zealand has partnered with Alibaba’s online travel platform Fliggy to produce a campaign that captures some of New Zealand’s most iconic destinations to broadcast throughout China including Hobbiton, the Waitomo glow-worm caves and Sky Tower. 

The partnership has meant that tonight a series of images are lighting the Tower with the themes of New Zealand’s skies. 

These themes are connected with 100% Pure Welcome – you may have seen our Good Morning World videos – you won’t miss them later tonight. 

For me a highlight of the Year has been discovering the values that we share in common – in particular, our inherent belief in welcoming our guests – manaakitanga. 

Manaakitanga refers to mutual respect, hospitality and care for others. 

When visitors enter a Marae, it is important they’re well fed and looked after by the tangata whenua – the hosts. 

This value is reflected in the generosity of the Chinese people and their custom of ensuring the guest’s plate and cup are always full. 

Through Manaakitanga, we look to provide our visitors with a memorable and enjoyable experience that they will want to share with friends and family. 

Strong, friendly relationships that have been built over time provide resilient and strong foundations – upon which we can overcome challenges and achieve great things. 

Tonight, I would like to acknowledge all of those involved in making this Year of Tourism a great success. 

Tonight is an acknowledgement of a new milestone achieved by China and New Zealand. 

It has been an honour to be involved in the Year of Tourism, to see both sides working together so well, and I look forward to further co-operation for years to come. 

Enjoy the rest of your evening! 

Xie xie. 

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

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