Simon Draper's July 2019 Update

We launched our Perceptions of Asia report this week, a survey that has tracked the way New Zealanders view Asia and its peoples for more than 20 years. It’s fair to say that since the first survey was conducted in 1997 New Zealand has changed a lot, both demographically and in our perception of our place in the world, with Asia playing an increasingly important role.

A theme that has become apparent in the research over the years is that the more knowledge people have about Asia and Asian peoples, the more positive and confident they feel about engaging with the region.

A graphic from the Perceptions of Asia report showing New Zealanders' self-assessed knowledge of Asia

A graphic from the Perceptions of Asia report showing New Zealanders' self-assessed knowledge of Asia

Encouragingly, in recent years we’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of people who report they have at least a fair amount of Asia knowledge – 48 percent in the latest survey compared to 33 percent in 2013.

The data shows personal connections with Asia, be it through travel, language, relationships or cultural connections, have the greatest impact on the level of self-reported knowledge. This is encouraging, as at the Foundation we are in the business of providing New Zealanders with opportunities to experience and engage with Asia. In this update, I touch on some of our most recent activities doing just this.

25 Young People to Watch in New Zealand-Asia relations

An important part of the Foundation’s work is developing the next generation of young Asia-savvy leaders. We do this through our Leadership Network, our NextGen Track II programme, our business internships and more; in fact, it’s a key part of almost all the work we do.

Through the programmes mentioned above, we know there are some amazing young people doing incredible work that contributes to Asia-New Zealand relations and, no doubt, there are many more that haven’t, yet, come to our attention.

To recognise them and to help mark our 25th anniversary, last month we launched our 25 Young People to Watch awards. The awards are across five categories with the winners announced at a ceremony in October.

If you know someone who fits the bill, please, with their consent, nominate them. I’m looking forward to hearing about the nominees and what they’re up to.

Hui strengthens network's te ao Māori knowledge

Speaking of young Asia-savvy New Zealanders contributing to Asia-New Zealand relations, last month I spent two days at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi alongside a group of our Leadership Network members.

A Leadership Network member and kaumatua hongi

The hui was an opportunity for members to connect with te ao Māori (the Māori world) and hear from Māori engaging with Asia. It was also an opportunity for the members to strengthen their leadership skills and their ability to represent New Zealand when they’re in Asia – after all, to properly represent this country an understanding of te ao Māori is essential.

It was two years ago last month that Foundation staff and members of our Leadership Network’s te kahui Māori (Māori caucus) gathered for a hui at Taheke Marae in Rotorua to discuss how the Foundation can further embed Māori engagement and tikanga into our work; although we’ve got a way to go, I feel hui such as was held at Te Tii Marae show we are making progress.

Indonesia teachers and North Asian entrepreneurs visit NZ

The Foundation hosted two groups from Asia last month – seven North Asian agribusiness entrepreneurs here as part of our entrepreneurship programme and six Indonesian teachers here as part of a reciprocal exchange programme.

North Asia entrepreneurs tasting honey at Comvita New Zealand

North Asia entrepreneurs learnt about manuka honey production and bio-security regulations at Comvita New Zealand

The seven entrepreneurs are the first group from North Asia to come to New Zealand through the entrepreneurship programme, which has previously focused on Southeast Asia. You can read about their visit here.

The Indonesian teachers, all from Al-Azhar Islamic primary and secondary schools, were paired with teachers from Onerahi Primary School in Whangarei, Hamilton Girls’ High and Otago Girls’ High, staying at their homes and observing their classes.

The visit was part of a two-way exchange that earlier this year saw the New Zealand teachers hosted by their Indonesian counterparts. Having now established face-to-face relationships, the teachers will build connections between their classrooms by making the most of digital technologies. No doubt their students, both here and in Indonesia, will find it fascinating to partake in classroom activities halfway across the world and learn about what life is like for kids of the same age in another country.

The programme is part of the Global Schools Partnership Project (GSPP) – a collaboration between the Foundation and the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence.

And those are just a few of the activities the Foundation was engaged in last month. You can read more about the people and activities the Foundation has supported on our website's news pages..

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei

Simon Draper