NZ celebrate first official Chinese Language Week

By Taroi Black

A Māori real estate agent says learning to speak Chinese has provided her with economic benefits.  For the first time, New Zealand is celebrating Chinese Language Week in a bid to encourage more Kiwis to speak Chinese and bridge the cultural and linguistic knowledge gap between China and New Zealand.

She doesn't speak Māori fluently yet, but Tui Hurrell Kaumoana believes there are benefits to learning a Chinese language.

She says, “When it comes to speaking Mandarin, I think for me it was a lot more easier because I had lived there and when you're immersed in the culture and the language, it's a lot easier to pick up.”

Iwarangi Hare says, “Although it was difficult at first, I think the language almost sounds like our language.”

China has become the largest trading partner and the second largest source of tourists in New Zealand.  With the implementation of a New Zealand Chinese Language Week, cultural and linguistic knowledge gaps will close.

Raymond Huo says, “The Chinese language learning and teaching in New Zealand are way out of step with our ever growing trade and cultural relationships with China.”

According to Census 2013, over 170,000 Chinese are living in New Zealand.  Around 120,000 New Zealanders are comfortable having a conversation in a Chinese language.

Tui Hurrell Kaumoana says, “Now that I'm a real estate agent, last week I sold a house for $450,000 above CV and that was to a person from Singapore, so with regards to my mahi, yeah I find it very beneficial and helpful.”

The initiative is preparing New Zealand's future generations for an era that may be influenced by the Chinese and the Asian Economy.

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