Learning Mandarin Chinese:
A Leadership Network member's story

At the age of eight, Leadership Network member Nathalie Harrington moved with her mother to Liuyang city in the Hunan province of China. There she attended a local school and by the time she returned to New Zealand aged 12 was fluent for a child of her age.

On returning to New Zealand, Nathalie continued to study Mandarin at University. Now 24 years old, she works at Russell McVeagh law firm in Wellington.

Some statistics:

  • At the time of the 2013 Census, the Chinese New Zealander population stood at approximately 171,000. This represented a 16 percent increase from the 2006 Census.
  • Mandarin Chinese is one of the few languages seeing an increase in students. However, only about 4,200 students are currently studying Mandarin at secondary level.
  • China is New Zealand's biggest export market with about NZ$10 billion exported in 2014. 
  • About 378,000 Chinese tourists visited New Zealand last year - the second most of any nation after Australia.