Learning Mandarin can benefit Māori and business - Professor Margaret Mutu

By Leah Te Whata

It's Chinese language week. Auckland University Professor Margaret Mutu says learning Mandarin can benefit Māori and business.

Professor Margaret Mutu says, "If we want to trade with China, the most important thing is to build relationships with them and that means being able to have conversations with them."

More than thirty two thousand New Zealand children were learning a Chinese language in 2015. Tze Louis Ngā-Tai says it would benefit both Māori and Chinese to learn each other's languages.

"When you know a person's language you know their culture, so for Māori, if they know Chinese, they will be able to easily express what they are wanting from a business and vice versa and they'll be able to understand certain concepts that you can't really translate into English."

For the past three years Ngāti Kahu have travelled to China for business, and usually they take a translator with them, but Professor Mutu says it'd be better to engage directly with their trade partner.

"It would be much better if we of Ngāti Kahu could speak and understand Mandarin and the Chinese speak and understand te reo Māori, that's what we want."

Tze Louis Ngā-Tai says, "I think it's awesome to learn Chinese and Māori so that we can really connect."

Today marks the first day of the third annual New Zealand Chinese Language week.