When did you start learning Chinese? What inspired you to take up the language?
I started to learn basic greetings from 2017 and I’m afraid am still very much a beginner. I’ve been dedicating my language learning to Te Reo Māori fir the last few years.
Tell us about your Chinese language learning journey? What has been the most unexpected or rewarding part of the experience?
I’m always very scared of pronouncing things incorrectly or in some way saying things wrong and that, that may cause offence. What I’ve learnt in my reo Māori journey, is that we must keep trying, keep learning and it will eventually come to fruition if we turn up and do the work. It is so very rewarding to see Chinese people smile and appreciate the gesture when I’m attempting to pay them respect by greeting them and engaging in basic Chinese language. I feel it is our responsibility to engage with and grow relationships with Chinese by respecting culture and language first.
What opportunities have opened up for you as a result of your Chinese speaking ability?
Because I feel it’s a basic firm of respect to engage with other cultures by learning their language, one of the wonderful results has been knowing that what I expect as a Māori when other cultures engage with me on my whenua (land) is something I can offer to Chinese when I am engaging with them in their whenua… culture understand culture and when we are engaging authentically and with respect for custom our relationships are immediate and sustainable. It is from these genuine relationships that many opportunities have arisen for us at KIRI NATHAN and the Kāhui Collective in China.
What do you like most about the Chinese culture?
The fooooooooddddd! 🥰🥰🥰 omg! I crave the flavours of China when I leave! The traditional dress, absolutely stunning! Traditional crafts with bamboo!
What are the most striking differences between Chinese and Kiwi culture?
Population and scale.
Why do you think other New Zealanders should learn Chinese? Do you have any tips for anyone thinking of taking up the language?
The New Zealand Chinese population is growing exponentially, it would be wonderful for New Zealander’s to connect to this beautiful community through Chinese language and culture.