New Zealand, New Thinking presented New Zealand to Chinese people in an unconventional and exciting way. It featured the land, the people, and New Zealand’s place on the Asia-Pacific rim. Elements included a panoramic film, images of the Kiwi landscape, interactive experiences demonstrating ‘green screen’ technology as used in The Lord of the Rings films, a model produced by the award-winning Weta Workshop, and information about New Zealand’s innovative and creative industries.
Two New Zealand performance groups were on site with the exhibit and performed several times a day. One is Strike, a high-energy percussion group; the other is a kapa haka (Māori cultural performance) group from Whitireia Polytechnic’s Performing Arts School.
Key to the exhibit were the hosts - young, enthusiastic New Zealanders who speak fluent Mandarin. They represent the modern ‘face’ of New Zealand, greeting and interacting with visitors and providing further information about the exhibit and New Zealand.
Four curved panels, configured to suit the venue, presented different aspects of New Zealand. The ‘outer’ side of the four panels featured ‘postcard’ images of New Zealand. The hosts encouraged visitors to photograph themselves against the panels, using their personal mobile phones and cameras, creating the illusion that they have really been to New Zealand.
Once visitors pass the outer panels, they encountered three interactive experiences and a stunning panoramic film.
The three interactive experiences were:
Wordfall – As visitors pass in front of the green screen wall, they see their own life-size image projected on a facing wall. They also see short sentences, in Chinese characters, ‘drift’ down from the top of the screen. As characters ‘hit’ the visitors’ bodies, they come to rest as drifting snow might on the head, or a flock of sparrows might roost on an outstretched arm. Visitors can read the text at rest, bounce it off or allow it to slide down. The characters will form sentences about New Zealand, including Māori proverbs.
Film Technology – Visitors are able to see themselves scaled in size, using technology developed for The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition. Taking the role of a Hobbit or a normal-sized person, the visitors can see scaled images of themselves projected onto a screen featuring a scene from the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. A beautifully rendered model of Gollum by Weta Workshop will also be displayed.
Windows on New Zealand – The projection wall displays a beautiful panoramic image of a New Zealand landscape. As visitors walk in front of the green screen, their silhouette appears over the panorama image, ‘wiping’ it away as they move, and replacing it with a new, underlying image. The more they move around, the more of the new image is revealed, as though they were wiping ice off a window. When the new image is revealed, continued movement/action then begins to wipe that image away, revealing still another New Zealand view. Multiple visitors can participate at a time, working together to make the new image appear.
Also featuring is New Sea Land People, a film commissioned by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, running continuously on a panoramic screen. While presenting the country’s natural face, the film imagery also goes deeper, presenting vital cities, cutting-edge technological research, and a range of modern art, dance and performance works.
New Zealand, New Thinking toured to shopping malls in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou, as part of the Zealand Government’s Cultural Diplomacy International Programme.
Beijing 16–25 March Oriental Plaza
Shanghai 2–8 April Westgate Plaza
Wuhan 13–23 April Wuhan World Trade Plaza
Guangzhou 27 April – 6 May Grandview Plaza