25 Sept 2018
There was no shortage of Chinese fans or fans of China at Columba College yesterday, when pupils celebrated New Zealand Chinese Language Week with traditional folk dance and martial arts training.
They are among 64,874 primary pupils and 5820 secondary pupils learning Chinese.
Chinese Language Week organisers are concerned it is only 8% of the total number of pupils in New Zealand, and the drop-off at secondary school-level indicates pupils are not realising the benefits of learning the language.
Columba College Chinese language teacher Ivy Ding said it was becoming increasingly important for young New Zealanders to learn to speak Mandarin and learn about Chinese culture, as tourism and business ties between the two nations were getting much closer.
While there were many job opportunities in China for people who could speak Mandarin, she said there were also many job opportunities in New Zealand because more and more Chinese tourists were visiting our shores and there was a great need for communication between, and appreciation of, both cultures.
It would also be an important skill for those working in the business/trade sector, she said.
New Zealand Chinese Language Week Trust co-chairwoman Jo Coughlan said Chinese Language Week aimed to promote the benefits and opportunities of learning more about Chinese language and culture.
''In the next few years, visitors from China are set to overtake Australia as New Zealand's number one source of tourists, and yet our language skills and cultural understanding are sadly lagging behind.
''New Zealand Chinese Language Week is a Kiwi-led initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to give Chinese a go.
''It's not as hard as you think.''
A number of organisations from across the country are getting behind the week, by holding about 100 events across New Zealand.
''There's everything from trying your hand at calligraphy, to film showings, dance performances and more.''