Big group set for Shanghai

The biggest Otago Museum delegation sent abroad will attend the opening of a trail-blazing Otago exhibition in Dunedin's Chinese sister city, Shanghai, this week.

The exhibition, at the Shanghai Museum, is titled "Te Ao Maori: Maori Treasures from the Otago Museum" and features more than 330 Maori taonga (treasures).

It is expected to be seen by up to half a million people and is by far the biggest exhibition staged by the Otago Museum overseas.

It is also the first major Maori artefact show to be displayed at a museum in China, museum organisers said.

The Shanghai Museum is regarded as one of the world's great museums and attracts about two million visitors a year.

In 2008 the Otago institution hosted "The Emperor's Dragons", a Shanghai Museum show covering 6000 years of Chinese history, and the two museums have built a close relationship.

The 16-strong Otago Museum delegation includes museum trust board chairman Graham Crombie, chief executive Shimrath Paul and museum Maori advisory committee chairman Matapura Ellison.

Mr Paul said it was "very pleasing" to celebrate the opening with a group of people who had helped bring the exhibition together and ensure its success.

Otago Museum exhibitions, development and planning director Clare Wilson said two delegation members had travelled with the exhibition as couriers and were already helping install the show.

Several members were performing kapa haka, singing waiata and/or giving lectures at the Shanghai Museum.

Otago Museum delegation costs amounted to about $10,000, including two air fares.

Other delegation costs were covered by the Shanghai Museum, by other organisations, or through self-funding by participants, she said.

Many other Dunedin people will also be present at the opening, including Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Deputy Mayor Christopher Staynes, council community life general manager Graeme Hall and Dunedin Chinese Garden manager Margo Reid.

Council officials said Mr Cull, Mr Hall and Mrs Reid were council-funded, and other participants separately supported.

Also attending are Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker and two other senior polytechnic officials, as well as representatives of the Dunedin Shanghai Association and Dunedin Chinese Garden Trust, and Associate Prof Donna Buckingham and Ruth Molloy, both of the University of Otago Faculty of Law.



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