Shang­hai Mis­sion Day 4

The Northland Age - - Opinion - Ana­hera Her­bert-Graves

One of the loveli­est as­pects of Nga¯ti Kahu’s an­nual Mis­sions to China is the strength­en­ing of whanaun­gatanga (re­la­tion­ships) be­tween the mem­bers of each del­e­ga­tion.

Our first year was an en­tirely Nga¯ti Kahu af­fair, but since 2016 Mr Gui has cho­sen mem­bers of his Car­ring­ton staff and their wha¯nau to join us.

Ini­tially I had won­dered how this com­bi­na­tion might be af­fected by the need that arises from time to time for Nga¯ti Kahu to hui pri­vately.

Very quickly I got my an­swer; out­side our nor­mal lives and in­side a for­eign coun­try, we quickly be­come com­fort­able enough to know when to hang to­gether and when to sep­a­rate diplo­mat­i­cally. And re­gard­less of whether we are selected by Mr Gui or Nga¯ti Kahu, we bond with and care for each other.

That car­ing man­i­fests in many ways. For ex­am­ple, on Day 4 four of the mis­sion, as we make our way through the Shang­hai Mu­seum of Art and Tech­nol­ogy, sur­rounded by mil­lions of tamariki/mokop­una who aren’t al­ways look­ing where they are go­ing, one of our younger mem­bers says, “Stay close be­hind me whaea,” then places him­self be­tween me and the jostling crowds.

This mu­seum is one of China’s most vis­ited. Pub­licly ad­min­is­tered by the gov­ern­ment and pri­vately funded by lo­cal busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Shang­hai CRED, it has 14 per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tions and four science-themed IMAX cin­e­mas. How­ever, we end up only vis­it­ing one ex­hi­bi­tion, the Spec­trum of Life, which im­i­tates the scenery of Yun­nan Prov­ince and dis­plays its di­ver­sity of crea­tures.

By the time we fin­ish view­ing this ex­hi­bi­tion it is al­ready af­ter­noon, and I for one am feel­ing the strain of the crowds. So when our guide gives us a choice of vis­it­ing an­other ex­hi­bi­tion or hav­ing lunch, the unan­i­mous and im­me­di­ate re­sponse is, “Lunch!” And on that slightly hasty note we exit stage left.

In the af­ter­noon we make our way over to the Fake Mar­kets, in the mas­sive un­der­ground AP Plaza Mall, which has more than 1000 stores sell­ing clothes, suit­cases, watches and other lux­ury goods that are openly fake but just as good as their branded coun­ter­parts.

With the help of a cou­ple of our Nga¯ti Kahu mem­bers who are good hag­glers, we leave with most of our gift shop­ping done for this year, and our thoughts are turn­ing home­ward.

Evening comes, and we re­turn to our ho­tel while our Car­ring­ton mem­bers go out to try and buy some KFC as a birth­day sur­prise for one of our Nga¯ti Kahu mem­bers who loves the stuff.

They re­turn empty-handed an hour later, hav­ing learnt that with­out an in­ter­preter it is re­ally hard to com­plete any mis­sion in China. We warmly wel­come them back into the fold.

Since 2015 two dozen Nga¯ti Kahu in­di­vid­u­als and seven Car­ring­ton mem­bers have trav­elled this road to­gether, build­ing re­la­tion­ships and un­der­stand­ing that out­last each mis­sion and that in­crease our op­por­tu­ni­ties and ca­pac­ity as a sov­er­eign peo­ple to act lo­cally while think­ing glob­ally, and vice versa.

To be con­tin­ued.

"Since 2015 two dozen Nga¯ ti Kahu in­di­vid­u­als and seven Car­ring­ton mem­bers have trav­elled this road to­gether, build­ing re­la­tion­ships and un­der­stand­ing that out­last each mis­sion ..."

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