By Tourism New Zealand on July 5, 2019
Kuala Lumpur, 27 June 2019: Tourism New Zealand celebrated Matariki, the Māori New Year, in Kuala Lumpur today, with a first-ever collaboration with Chef James Won, conceptualising a unique lunch featuring a fusion of Malaysian and New Zealand cuisine. The lunch was held at Chef James Won’s restaurant, enfin by James Won, and welcomed over 50 travel industry, consulate and media guests, including travel portal Have Halal, Will Travel.
Hosted by the tourism board’s Regional Manager South and South-East Asia, Steven Dixon, and opened by New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Hunter Nottage, the event celebrates the key role food plays in bringing people and community together for both cultures.
Hunter Nottage, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Malaysia said, “It is a great occasion to celebrate Matariki here in Malaysia, a country which New Zealand has shared close links of friendship and support for many years. Our strong ties cut across education, defence, indigenous cooperation, trade, and of course, tourism. Tourism plays an integral role in the friendly people connections between the two countries. ‘Makan’ and ‘Kai’ – the Malay and Māori words for food – are important in both countries because we are both great hosts! I hope that with today’s event and beyond, that we continue to expand this relationship further.”
According to Tourism New Zealand’s Regional Manager South and South-East Asia Steven Dixon, the event aims to allow Malaysians to experience New Zealand’s unique hospitality, also known in the Maori culture as manaakitanga. The essence of manaakitanga lies in demonstrating hospitality and generosity to others.
“Malaysian travellers have been drawn to New Zealand because of our incredible variety of landscapes and experiences, but what makes a trip truly memorable to travellers is our hospitality. When people leave New Zealand, they remember the interactions they had with locals, and the welcoming nature of Kiwis.
“The welcome we offer our visitors is what sets New Zealand apart as a tourist destination. Our special type of hosting, our manaakitanga sees our visitors arrive as strangers but leave as whānau, or family. Our new campaign – ‘100% Pure Welcome – 100% Pure New Zealand’, which we are proud to launch today, is a new approach to storytelling that brings this concept to life.
We hope that from today’s event, you will take away an understanding of New Zealand’s manaakitanga and why it is a key reason that Malaysians should visit New Zealand.”
Chef James Won, who had previous culinary experience in New Zealand, said, “It has been a great honour to bring the best of both worlds for today’s dishes, where both cultures celebrate strong culinary heritage and diversity. I have included the best of New Zealand produce such as South Island lamb ranks, seasonal fruits and added a unique Malaysian twist with ingredients like local herbs, mushrooms, spices and cooking techniques.
“During my time in New Zealand, one thing I realised is that Kiwis love to bond over food, like us Malaysians. The fusion dishes I have created today symbolise the harmony of New Zealand and Malaysia.”
In March this year, Tourism New Zealand collaborated with travel and lifestyle platform, Have Halal, Will Travel, to highlight the Muslim-friendly travel offerings.
“Malaysia is one of our key markets in Southeast Asia. Over the last five years, we have seen more Malaysians making New Zealand their choice of destination. In the past year, over 55,000 Malaysians visited our country,” said Mr Dixon.
“With Malaysia being a Muslim-majority country, we recognise the importance of halal food options and prayer facilities for many Malaysian travellers. Our partnership with Have Halal, Will Travel is an important way for us to demonstrate our commitment in making New Zealand more appealing and accessible to Malaysian travellers.”
During her speech on Have Halal, Will Travel’s experience in New Zealand, Ms. Elaine Tee said, “During our trip to New Zealand, we found a number of Muslim-friendly and Halal food options, and the Kiwis we met left a great impression on us, how they’re really warm, welcoming and always ready to help. We are touched by our experiences of manaakitanga first-hand, and we encourage travellers to visit and discover for themselves what New Zealand has to offer.”