Simon Draper's
September 2017 update

Ko tēnei te wiki o te reo Māori. Kia kaha koutou ki te kōrero Māori ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Ko te reo Māori te reo taketake o Aotearoa, he taonga te reo, he reo ora mō tātou katoa.

Asia Media Centre

 Journalist talking to people in bangladesh

This month, the Foundation marks another key milestone as we launch the Asia Media Centre. Ahead of the formal launch of the new website, we have started publishing the Asia Digest newsletter which features commentaries and views on developments making headlines in Asia.

Modelled on the Science Media Centre, the Asia Media Centre aims to make it easier for New Zealand media to access expertise on Asia. It will highlight stories on the Asia-New Zealand relationship and provide contextual information on topical Asian issues.

Some may ask why we are doing this. Our research tells us that much of what New Zealanders know about Asia comes from the media and over the past two decades, our Perceptions of Asia survey has identified strong links between media coverage and the public's understanding of Asia – and their feelings about the region. Sadly, conflicts and disasters have tended to dominate NZ news coverage on Asia (see recent Stuff column). In addition, pressures in the news media landscape have left newsrooms with very limited resources to ensure substantive coverage of Asia. With this new resource, the Asia Media Centre hopes to be a useful resource for NZ media and we look forward to working with them. It’s a very exciting initiative for us.

South Island visit

I recently visited Christchurch for the launch of the Asian Investment in New Zealand report in Te Wai Pounamu. Big thanks to the city’s new economic development agency, ChristchurchNZ, for organising the event. Despite the early start for our breakfast panel discussion, the room was packed!  I moderated a panel which comprised ANZCO chair Sir Graeme Harrison, report author and University of Auckland School of Business Professor Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Chief Commercial Officer for Christchurch International Airport Justin Watson and Ngai Tahu Holdings Limited Director Paul Silk.  

As mentioned in my recent Stuff column, the visit was a reminder that views about New Zealand's relationship with Asia are not uniform across the country. My conversations with government and business leaders while I was in the ‘mainland’ tell me they are more focused on the opportunities Asia brings to them. They are eager to collaborate to maximise these opportunities in the medium to long term. This was quite refreshing compared with the "risk/reward" debate which tends to dominate discussions in the wider Auckland region and in Wellington. Te Ika a Maui can take a page from the book of Te Wai Pounamu.

Asian language learning

In partnership with International Languages, Exchanges and Pathways (ILEP), our education team has been speaking with educators around the regions about the importance of Asian language learning in schools and the support the Foundation offers. Our recent school leavers survey shows Asian language learning among senior secondary school students declined from 39 percent in 2012 to 34 percent in 2016.

However, it is estimated 60-75 percent of the world is at least bilingual, if not multilingual. The Foundation has been promoting Asian language learning for the past 22 years to help our young people to be more globally competitive. The Asia New Zealand Foundation recently issued a statement welcoming the announcement of a programme to make available at least 10 priority languages in New Zealand primary schools.

China Track II

track II delegation to China

For the first time in six years, the Foundation led a Track II delegation to China

For the first time in six years, the Foundation led a Track II delegation to China, focussing on the economy, trade policy and the Belt and Road Initiative. The delegation was led by our Chair, Hon John Luxton. President Xi Jinping has affirmed China’s commitment to globalisation and trade liberalisation – so what does this mean for China’s engagement on these issues and where does the Belt and Road fit in? 

While China was a focus for our delegation members’ respective work areas, not all had had recent engagement with Chinese colleagues, and some had never visited China – so this was an opportunity to hear Chinese perspectives and consider implications for New Zealand. We’ll be posting articles by delegation members to our website in the weeks ahead.

WARE 10th anniversary

man and woman discussing ware artist

2017 WARE artist in residence Chen Yin-Ju from Taiwan discussing her work with Circuit Director Mark Williams

Earlier this month a symposium was held at Wellington’s City Gallery to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Wellington Asia Residency Exchange (WARE) programme which we organise in partnership with Wellington City Council. In support of the symposium we flew back a former WARE resident, Thai video artist Sutthirat Supaparinya, to speak alongside current WARE artist Chen Yin-Ju from Taiwan about their individual artistic practice and the importance of the residency experience.

Wellington City Mayor Justin Lester opened the symposium and thanked the Foundation for the partnership, highlighting the importance of strengthening cultural ties with Asia.

Through our arts and culture programme, as well as supporting many Asian artists to travel to New Zealand, the Foundation has supported many more New Zealand artists to travel to Asia so they can build their networks and work collaboratively with their Asian counterparts.