Executive Director's September Update

Tēnā koutou and 大家好 (dà jiā hǎo) – Hello everyone. In last month’s newsletter, former executive director Simon Draper shared his thoughts on his recent journey through Asian capitals and reflected on his time at the Foundation. Simon has since rejoined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and while finding a suitable replacement won't be easy, we will commence the recruitment process soon. In the meantime, I’ll be filling in as acting executive director with lots of support from my Board and colleagues.
A group of five people looking at a large traditional Korean wall painting of figures in traditional dress

This month, the Foundation took a group of curators to South Korea to learn about the local art scene and connect with local arts practitioners

I’m sure you’re all aware, this week is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and next week is New Zealand Chinese Language Week.

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori is an opportunity to shine a light on te Reo, consider its significance for Aotearoa and, crucially, engage in learning the language and in doing so contribute to its revitalisation. 

As an outward-looking organisation with a mission to empower New Zealanders for success in Asia, our primary language-learning focus at the Foundation lies in advocating for the acquisition of Asian languages as well as championing the learning of te Reo Māori, recognising its importance both for New Zealand as a whole and within our own organisation.

Our commitment to enhancing our inhouse language ability is underscored by the participation of Foundation staff in te reo training, which notably included an opportunity for team members to partake in a five-week immersive course in 2021.

A group photo of Foundation staff holding up certificates for completing a te reo Maori  course

Te Whītau Tūhono staff and board member Lyn Lim receiving certificates after completing an immersion te reo course through Victoria University

Our path toward a deeper understanding of te reo and te ao Māori has been greatly enriched this year through the appointment of our chief adviser, Māori, Veronica (Ronnie) Thompson. 

Importantly, when it comes to language learning, it doesn't have to be an 'either-or' situation on whether to learn te reo or an Asian language. Research has shown that once a child (or adult for that matter) has picked up a second language, learning a third is a much easier undertaking. Throughout the motu there are children at immersion kura who also learn Mandarin and other Asian languages. You can read about one such school here

Being able to articulate and understand one’s own identity and place in the world is an important part of building confidence to engage internationally as well. Clearly, knowledge of te reo goes a long way to developing this understanding. 

Next week we are collaborating with the New Zealand China Council for a New Zealand Chinese Language Week event to hold an evening exploring the Chinese language journeys of young New Zealanders.  The Auckland event will shine a light not only on Mandarin but also other dialects such as Cantonese and Teochew – the dialect of Guangdong in south-eastern China.

Seriously Asia Revisited

This month we launched of our latest research report Seriously Asia Revisited - a roadmap for 2024 and beyond.

The report compiled the findings from four hui the Foundation held in 2022. These meetings convened more than 100 informed voices and industry experts to deliberate on the challenges that New Zealand needs to address in order to foster stronger, more constructive relationships in Asia.

The report outlines six key issues we must tackle and provides 12 recommendations to better position New Zealand for success in the region over the coming decades.

It's critical that New Zealand has a plan with respect to how we move forward in this space, and we hope the Seriously Asia programme of work will become a key document that informs policy going forward.

For anyone with an interest in New Zealand-Asia relations - which as a subscriber to our newsletter, I'm sure you do - the report will make for thought-provoking but optimistic reading. 

Curators make connections in Seoul

The curators walking into the National Gallery in Seoul

The curators visiting South Korea's National Gallery

Over the past week, our director arts led a group of New Zealand curators to South Korea where they learned about the local art scene, made connections and explored ways to strengthen New Zealand’s art links to Asia.

As well as visiting galleries and attending networking events, the curators attended Frieze Seoul Art Fair – one of the world’s premiere international arts fairs, with a focus on contemporary art.

The Foundation views art as a vital means for New Zealanders to deepen their comprehension of Asia. It is anticipated that the connections established by the curators during their trip will pave the way for future collaborations and the exhibition of Asian art to audiences in New Zealand.

If you’re active on social media, and following the Foundation, you may have seen photos showing some of what the curators have been up to. Keep an eye on our website (or next month’s newsletter) for an article providing a more in-depth look at their time in South Korea.

Last week, the Foundation bid farewell to our executive director Simon Draper in Auckland, following a farewell event held in Wellington the week before.

The event not only served as an opportunity for friends and stakeholders of the Foundation to bid farewell to Simon but also provided a platform for our staff to publicly debut our newly composed waiata, 'Te Whītau Tūhono,' crafted by Ronnie. We’re still getting to know the waiata, but we’re improving with each rendition.   

This month, we also said goodbye to BoBae Wilson, who has been running our internships programme. BoBae has taken up a position with the International Growth Fund at NZ Trade and Enterprise. We wish her all the best with her new job.  

Ka nui tēnei

Kia Kaha te Reo Māori
Adele Mason