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Whale Rider premiere wows Japanese audience

Whale Rider premiere wows Japanese audience

Whale Rider, New Zealand’s latest film sensation, premiered last night in Tokyo to an influential Japanese audience.

Tourism Minister Mark Burton, there as the film promoters’ guest of honour, described the evening as a “very special and successful occasion.”

Mark Burton is in Japan as part of Tourism New Zealand’s Japanese Recovery Programme, which is aimed at boosting numbers of Japanese visitors post-SARS. He also hosted Japan’s Justice Minister Ms Mayumi Moriyama to the premiere.

“Our Japanese guests tend to be very sensitive to world events. In the period following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Japan showed the most significant drop in visitor numbers. In November 2001, I travelled to Japan to meet directly with key industry partners, to emphasise our commitment to a strong New Zealand/Japan relationship and promote New Zealand as a peaceful destination—one that values and welcomes guests from Japan.

“This year, with Japanese visitor numbers down 33 percent in reaction to the SARS virus, it is essential to actively and positively reinforce the relationship between our countries, as well as to re-emphasise that New Zealand is truly a unique destination.

“The premiere of Whale Rider was an ideal way to start my visit. The film has already proved to be a superb vehicle for promoting New Zealand to discerning audiences around the world. Opening night in Tokyo left the audience moved and impressed with the film, its story, and the new insights it gave them into New Zealand.

“There can be no doubt that Whale Rider is going to generate further interest and awareness of New Zealand as a destination.

“Yet again, Whale Rider is proving to be an excellent ambassador.”

Mark Burton will be in Japan until Friday night meeting with key government and industry representatives.

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