New Centres of Asia Pacific
Excellence welcomed

The Asia New Zealand Foundation welcomes new funding to build New Zealanders’ capacity to engage with Asia.

The Foundation's existing programmes include our network of young leaders at the forefront of developing and maintaining strong links between Asia and New Zealand

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Hon Paul Goldsmith announced today [Thursday March 9] that a consortium of four universities (the University of Auckland, University of Waikato, Victoria University of Wellington and University of Otago) has successfully bid for funding for three Centres for Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs).  

The Asia New Zealand Foundation will be partnering with the universities and other agencies for the CAPEs for North Asia and Southeast Asia (the third CAPE is for Latin America).

 “For more than 20 years, the Asia New Zealand Foundation has been in the business of equipping New Zealanders to thrive in Asia,” says executive director Simon Draper.

“We bring a good deal of experience and networks to the conversation about our relationship with Asia.

“But we have our work cut out for us. Our data tells us that too many New Zealanders lack confidence in their engagement with Asia. For example, we’ve seen the number of secondary students learning Asian languages drop by a third in the past decade.

“The Centres for Asia-Pacific Excellence are designed to grow a workforce that is more culturally competent on Asia – an aim that aligns with Asia New Zealand Foundation’s mission. If we are to succeed in Asia, we need to move beyond our current transactional approach, and invest time and resources in understanding what makes Asian countries tick. We need to build sustainable relationships based on an understanding of each other’s cultures, histories and economies.

“We are looking forward to working with universities and other partner organisations to tackle this knowledge deficit.”

Mr Draper says the Foundation is looking forward to the opportunity to expand its existing range of programmes, which include activities and resources for schools; Asia internships for university students and graduates; the Foundation’s established Leadership Network, and the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative for young New Zealand and Southeast Asian entrepreneurs.

The Government allocated $34.5 million over four years to develop the CAPEs as part of the Innovative New Zealand package in Budget 2016.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas - business, arts and culture, education, media and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region. For more information: