Shanghai Mission Day 4
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 ..."