When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?

On and off for many years now as time has allowed. Firstly; in Primary school, so a little while ago now and then for a few years at High School, and briefly at University. At the start of 2021 my wife and I joined the Confucius Institute at UC to kick-start our language journey again! 

Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?

The most rewarding part of my journey was being able to lead a Mayoral delegation to the Chinese South Western prefecture of Guizhou to visit the town of Qinglong to build economic development relationships, centred on agriculture and cultural connectivity. As part of this visit we were hosted by the Chinese Government and I was fortunate to visit Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?

The delegation above was a great example of this. 

What do you like most about the Chinese culture? 

The richness of the Chinese culture and its extensive history is fascinating to me. 

What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?

For me it is the great outdoors. Australians and Kiwis love the outdoors and going out and enjoying the blue skies and fresh air is a part of our DNA. Visitors I have had from China love experiencing our country. The wide open spaces and ability to find a quiet place to just find yourself. 

Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?

China is an important economic and cultural partner for New Zealand. We need to strive to learn each others cultures and build stronger relationships to mutually prosper. The hardest part for me has always been how to immerse yourself in the Chinese language to build your language skills. So if you can learn with a friend or colleague you will find it not only easier, but far more enjoyable.