This year marks 25 years since the establishment of the Asia New Zealand Foundation – or Asia 2000, as we were called back then. It’s a good time to reflect on how New Zealand has changed and how our work has changed in response to that.
Through cultural festivals, internships, residencies, grants and other opportunities, the Foundation’s work has not only given people a chance to gain greater understanding of Asia, but also changed lives in many cases.
This year we will be taking the opportunity to look back on some of the people and initiatives we’ve supported since the Foundation’s inception. Many of these individuals have gone on to be ambassadors for the New Zealand-Asia relationship; keep an eye on our website and newsletters for some of their stories.
Waitangi Day and Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples in Te Ao Māori
Last week I was fortunate enough to celebrate Waitangi Day in Waitangi itself, visiting with the Foundation’s deputy executive director, Adele Mason. It was my first time at the treaty grounds on Waitangi Day and an extremely valuable experience that I would encourage others to get along to if they haven’t already.
Having the chance to discuss the Foundation’s mahi with others at Waitangi reinforced to me the importance of the journey we have embarked upon to increase Māori engagement in our work. We want Māori to take advantage of the opportunities Asia has to offer and ensure we as an organisation are in a position to help.
One of our first significant outputs in this space is a new report, Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples from a Te Ao Māori Perspective, which we will be launching in the next couple of weeks. There are some really interesting findings in the report, but I’ll leave it till the next newsletter to tell you more.
Business interns thriving in Asia
As I write, we have a cohort of students across Asia on business internships. You may have already seen the article in this newsletter from one of the interns documenting her first couple of months in Taiwan.
We’ve received a few reports back from the interns now (which we will be publishing on our website in coming weeks). It’s great to hear how they’re all doing and find out about their experiences living and working in a foreign country. As I mentioned in this week's Stuff column, they’re gaining cultural insights that will serve them well in their future careers.
No doubt some of this year’s cohort will incorporate Asia into their career plans and possibly play a significant role in the Asia-New Zealand relationship in years to come.
Funding for arts productions that bring Asian culture to NZ audiences
We’ve recently announced the latest round of arts project funding. Each year, the Foundation assists selected New Zealand artists and arts organisations to undertake Asia-related projects that help New Zealand audiences gain a better understanding of the vibrant contemporary art scenes in the Asia-Pacific region.
It’s about helping to get Asian voices into the mainstream and introducing more New Zealanders to Asian cultures. Read more about the projects here…
Don't miss this year's lantern festivals
I hope to see some of you at the Auckland and South Island lantern festivals this month. It’s been 20 years since the Foundation initiated the Auckland Lantern Festival and 15 years since the first Christchurch festival, now the South Island Lantern Festival.
The festivals have developed into highlight community events for both cities. For those who haven’t been before (and even if you have), I strongly suggest you get along to the Domain in Auckland (14-17 Feb) or Christchurch’s Avon River Precinct (22-24 Feb).
Welcome to our new honorary advisers
Finally, I’d like to welcome our new honorary advisers: Dr Reuben Abraham from India, Ms Helianti Hilman from Indonesia, Ms Adalzija Magno from Timor Leste, Mr Senaka Silva from Sri Lanka and Ms Annie Wu Suk-Ching from Hong Kong.
Our honorary advisers are individuals who hold key positions in business, academia, community or other sectors that the Foundation can turn to for advice and who can advocate on behalf of the Foundation in their respective countries.
I look forward to meeting the new advisers and no doubt we will be drawing on their wisdom in the future.
Nga mihi nui,