Expo Interview New Zealand Pavilion

Mike Pattison: Project Manager of the New Zealand Pavilion

New Zealand's Trade & Enterprise's Mike Pattison talks Expo 2005

Mike Pattison.

Mike Pattison is the Project Manager of New Zealand's Pavilion at Aichi Expo 2005. Mike previously managed the installation and running of the successful New Zealand pavilion at the 1993 World Expo in Daejeon, South Korea.

The design team for the New Zealand Pavilion is lead by Wellington exhibition creators Story!Inc (who developed The Lord of the Rings touring exhibition for Te Papa).

Team members include leading architects Warren + Mahoney Architecture, Wellington digital media producers Oktobor, Christchurch interactive developers HIT Lab and theatrical lighting consultant Marc Simpson.

The Aichi Expo's overall theme is Nature's Wisdom the search for a sustainable civilization in the 21st century.

JapanVisitor: Mike, can you tell us something about the design of the New Zealand Pavilion?
Mike Pattison: The main icon of the exterior of the pavilion is a white cloud representing both New Zealand/Aotearoa and the water cycle which sustains us.
The cloud will penetrate through into the interior of the pavilion, where a wide-screen multiple projection film will use the device of a bird's flight across the New Zealand landscape to reveal the natural environment and some of the things New Zealanders are doing which relate to the Expo's theme. Given the large numbers of people that will attend, we need a concept which works well and can be intuitively understood during a quite brief visit but can offer more information to visitors able to stay longer.

JapanVisitor: What will be the experience of the average visitor to the Expo?
Mike Pattison: Our visitor surveys tell us that the average visitor to the Expo will be in the 50+ age-group bracket, most will arrive early, around 10am and spend the whole day at the site. That's a long time for the average person. Expected visitors are in the region of 15,000 with 25,000 visitors a day on peak days. This translates to about 7 minutes in each pavilion. With this in mind, we've tried to design the New Zealand Pavilion to be an easy-to-walk-through space that has a cool, pleasant and comfortable atmosphere conducive for people to recharge their batteries.

JapanVisitor: A bit like the country as a whole?
Mike Pattison: Exactly.

JapanVisitor: How will you judge the success of New Zealand's participation?
Mike Pattison: If the massive through-put in numbers of people translates into a reasonable number who basically say at the end of their day or a week later: 'Yes, I went to the Expo, saw lots of pavilions, but I remember the New Zealand one best - a very nice place. I must go there one day.' That's what we're aiming for.

JapanVisitor: Has the making of the movie 'The Lord of the Rings' in New Zealand helped to raise awareness of the country as a travel destination?
Mike Pattison: Yes [though I haven't seen any of the films]. The design team Story!Inc, who worked on the New Zealand Pavilion, also put together 'The Lord of the Rings Exhibition', which has travelled all over the world.

JapanVisitor: How do Expos get off the ground?
Mike Pattison: Expos are strange beasts. They start off as a country to country, or a government to government invitation. The government and hosting city go to the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris, which is a bit like the IOC - it's a constituted body with a set of rules that go back a 100 years or so. If a country secures an Expo, the invitation comes from that country to international participants around the world. The pressure goes on to turn up. If you are a trading partner or enjoy a good relationship with the host country, there is an expectation that you'll be there.

JapanVisitor: What are the financial commitments and possible rewards of participating?
Mike Pattison: As a participating country you are looking at a reasonably substantial investment. For example, Australia has come in in a big way and all of the funding is coming from the federal government. They've since picked up a lot of state government and corporate support but in the first instance it was federal government that said: 'We're going and we're paying'. That's common in a lot of countries. but the next question is: 'How do you justify this expense. Where's the value?'.
Due to the nature of Expos, which are not overtly corporate-friendly with salespeople on the stand, for example, the value comes in the boost for the tourism sector in the participating country. You set out to showcase your country so that people will visit later on. Tourism is the only return that is readily measurable. You can look at your in-bound visitor stats post-Expo to see if there's been any difference.
Expo is not a glorified trade fair - no company would supply promotional staff for 6 months! Expos relate to wider diplomatic and friendship issues.

JapanVisitor: How do you hope to create a positive image of New Zealand, its people and products?
Mike Pattison: Apart from Zespri - the kiwi fruit exporters - New Zealand is not so well-known for its exports - something we'd like to change. Also, New Zealand is hoping to push the purity of its landscape and scenery to Japanese visitors. New Zealand exporters want to emphasize the resources and talents of the New Zealand people and we can do that by the way we put up the Pavilion.

JapanVisitor: How about other countries?
Mike Pattison: The African countries will have a joint pavilion and the host country will assist developing countries with their costs. The richer nations - the US, UK, Australia will be spending a lot of money on their pavilions.

JapanVisitor: Will there be a Maori presence?
Mike Pattison: We'll have a performing Maori haka group giving 4-5 performances a day and some of the performers will be skilled carvers and tattooists as well. Many Maori companies involved in fishing and the wine trade want to make contacts in Japan.

JapanVisitor: How will the pavilions at this Expo be different from previous Expos, say Seville?
Mike Pattison: Well at the Aichi 2005 Expo the pavilions are basically pre-fabs with consistent parts for each pavilion. The whole concept of Aichi 2005 is sustainable development and the whole site will be returned to its original state and will not be subjected to major earth works.

JapanVisitor: What will be the effect of Expo 2005 on Nagoya?
Mike Pattison: Nagoya has lived in the shadow of Tokyo and Osaka but the Expo will help to put the city and the Aichi area on the map. For me, Nagoya is more what I'm used to - Tokyo can be overwhelming. Nagoya has a good location, it's near the sea and some beautiful mountains.

Mike Pattison spoke to JapanVisitor in Nagoya, November 2004.

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