New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan
Aotearoa Ainu Exchange Programme with Maori
Earlier this year a Hokkaido-based Ainu group visited New Zealand for a month-long exchange programme involving several iwi (tribes) in different parts of the country. The exchange came out of a visit to Sapporo in January 2012 by Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell. Japan based Maori culture group Nga Hau E Wha, have forged a friendship with Ainu in Japan.
Ainu welcomed the opportunity to visit New Zealand as part of a cultural exchange programme to study ways in which their culture might thrive by looking at the various ways that Maori have protected and preserved their culture. Prior to the exchange, Nga Hau E Wha members were asked if they could provide assistance in preparation for the visit and a member of Nga Hau e Wha went to Hokkaido to hold workshops with participants, so that they would know what to expect on arrival in New Zealand.
Since then a gathering was recently held in Yokohama for participants to share their experiences of the exchange. Nga Hau E Wha members who attended the session said that it was a privilege to be able to support their Ainu “brothers and sisters”, and that they look forward to being able to learn from one another.
Representatives from the Ainu group also met the Ambassador earlier in the year and they’re also keen to stay in touch with the Embassy on further development of New Zealand links.