August media e-newsletter

Published: Tue 15 Aug 2006 04:08 PM
Media e-newsletter
August 2006
Kia ora, mingalarpar and welcome to the August edition of the Asia New Zealand Foundation media newsletter. In this issue, we feature a report of the Going Bananas: Multiple Identities forum, and hear from a New Zealand teacher who has been teaching in North Korea. There is also a wealth of other Asia related news. Meanwhile there are rumblings of a possible community forum on South Asian identity in New Zealand. We’ll keep you posted.
In this issue:
- World braces for ‘China’s century’; what are we doing?
- Kiwi Asians pack banana conference
- Asia:NZ media update
- Making young leaders
- Teaching in North Korea
- The sound of music (Kiwi-Indian style)
- Sunny side up for Skykiwi
- Darpan moves to primetime
- Scenes from behind the label
- Fidel Castro’s Chinese generals
- NZ Trio to help woo Asian students
- Countdown to Miss Chinese showdown
- Fundraiser for Java quake victims
- Classical sounds from North India
- Tribute to legendary Bollywood star
World braces for ‘China’s century’; what are we doing?
To British business leaders, China really does represent the Far East. But the future of what is being billed “China’s Century” is near enough for them to call for Chinese to be taught in British schools and universities.
Currently Britain produces fewer than 500 graduates a year who can speak Mandarin and this is fuelling disquiet among the country’s business leaders. They believe that lack of language skills and knowledge of the Chinese market is holding Britain back.
New research by management consultancy the Hay Group shows that British business leaders are anticipating that exports to China will be worth 10 percent of their global revenues, making China their most important export market.
The report’s author, Deborah Allday, says Britain faces a war on talent both in the Chinese and domestic job markets which the government needs to urgently address.
“This means not only introducing Chinese language teaching, but fostering an understanding of Asian culture and business practices,” she told The Guardian newspaper.
For New Zealand where China is not the Far East but the Near North, the Hay Group study is an indicator of how other western countries are beginning to prepare for China’s inescapable economic dominance.
The Preparing for a Future with Asia report by the Asia Knowledge Working Group outlines some of the failings that need to be overcome in our education system to ensure New Zealanders are equipped for the Chinese challenge.
Currently only a few schools offer Chinese and, as the report states, only a small proportion of teachers and school principals have specialist knowledge or understanding about Asia or parts of Asia.
“Most New Zealanders speak only English. There is evidence that New Zealanders see English as the international language and don’t see the need to learn Asian languages,” the report says.
It also says that the number of Asian specialists within the tertiary education system has declined since 1997. “There are relatively few Asia-related tertiary education courses. And importantly, there are very few Asia-focused business courses.”
The Asia New Zealand Foundation believes this trend needs to be reversed. Now is a time when the country needs to be building its Asia expertise – at all levels. It is a matter of urgency. Other countries certainly think so.
Australia has its National Statement for Engaging Young Australians with Asia in Australian Schools – an agreement signed in December last year by the country’s nine education ministers.
But such a document needs to be properly resourced to become a reality, so it will be interesting to see how things progress over there.
Meanwhile, the new draft curriculum for New Zealand schools, unveiled by Education Minister Steve Maharey this month, is being seen as a big step forward but it is critical for the country that it incorporates an Asian dimension.
If adopted, schools will have to offer a language option besides English and Maori.
Asian languages will become increasingly important in securing our future economic and strategic prosperity - and none more so than Chinese.
But New Zealand needs to be mindful that there also needs to be studies of Asia across the curriculum so that all students gain a good general knowledge of the region, not just the relatively small numbers who will study an Asian language.
It’s a real no-brainer.
Kiwi Asians pack banana conference
Soon after moving into their new Epsom home, Vikki Cheng and her family were greeted by a note in a their letterbox that said “Asians get out”.
Ms Cheng, who was 14 at the time, said she would never forget locking herself in the bathroom and crying her eyes out. But, as she told the Going Bananas forum, she now wished she had kept the note if only to change it to “Asians get out there!”
She was speaking as part of the panel on creative Chinese with Ant Sang (Bro’Town character designer), Ted Chen (Cultural Signals founder) and Kelvin Soh (The Wilderness).
Having recently graduated from University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Ms Cheng spoke about and presented her funny and irreverent Rice Girls project which used Japanese soft toy and pop culture to satirise Asian stereotypes.
She also told the 200-strong audience about her general experiences as a young 1.5 generation Chinese New Zealander after her family moved from Hong Kong in the early 1990s.
Her contribution was one of many during the fascinating conference held at AUT University on August 12. The theme of the event was to explore the many identities of being Chinese and a New Zealander.
Jenny Lee talked about growing up as Chinese and Maori, David Do broke new ground by sharing his experience as a gay Chinese New Zealander and Andrew Young, the CEO of the Starship Foundation, talked movingly about the rediscovery of his Chinese heritage.
There were also key note addresses by Dr Robyn Dixon on the formation of identity from early childhood to adolescence and by Dr James Liu on being Chinese and having a sense of belonging in New Zealand.
Observers commented that the audience was noticeably younger and more ethnically diverse than the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Banana Conference last year.
Media that attended, covered or previewed the forum included TVNZ, TV3, Radio New Zealand, The New Zealand Herald, The Chinese Herald, iBall, The New Zealand Mirror, The Listener, Asia Downunder, Triangle Television, 95bfm and Public Address.
Organisers, the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association, say next year the event will be themed BanaNZ Going Global and held at the Skycity Theatre which seats 700. Seating at this year’s conference was limited to 220 with a waiting list of nearly 180 people missing out.
For more information about the Going Bananas: Multiple Identities Forum, go to
Asia:NZ media update
Senior writer Dan Eaton of The Press last month reported on the ASEAN ministerial meetings in Kuala Lumpur and attended by Foreign Minister Winston Peters.
Mr Eaton’s assignment was supported by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and his articles were published in The Press, The Dominion Post, other Fairfax New Zealand newspapers and on the Stuff website.
Also in July, the latest media travel grants recipients were selected.
The journalists that will receive full media travel grants for this year’s Southeast Asia round are Lisa Davies (TVNZ ASB Business reporter) to go on assignment in Vietnam and Dean Williams (RNZ spoken features producer) to go to Cambodia.
Partial support has been offered to Grant Fleming (NZPA political reporter) and Danya Levy (Radio Live political reporter) to attend the East Asia Summit in December.
The deadline for media travel grants for South Asia is September 15.
Making young leaders
An inaugural Asia:NZ Young Leaders Forum for talented and promising young people from New Zealand and Asian countries is to be held in November.
The week-long project is an initiative by the Asia New Zealand Foundation to connect New Zealand to Asia through a network of up-and-coming young leaders.
Through the forum and its follow up activities, participants are expected to gain the knowledge, skills and relationships needed to form enduring networks that benefit New Zealand’s interests and the countries of Asia.
Participants will be selected through a competitive application and interview process. Each participant is expected to actively contribute to the forum’s success and to make the most of the opportunities being offered to them.
The forum will begin in Wellington on Sunday November 19 and conclude in Auckland on Saturday November 25.
More information about the forum can be found at or
Teaching in North Korea
A New Zealand school teacher says he was hugely surprised to land a three-month long teaching post in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
Tim Kearns, a Christchurch primary school teacher, has recently returned after the unique and strange experience of being the only westerner to teach in a North Korean school.
“There’s a mystique about the country and I went for apolitical reasons, just to volunteer and experience life there,” he said. The visit was arranged by the NZ DPR of Korea Society.
“It is a country with its difficulties, that’s not news, but I found they’re people just like us. I would go for a drink with the teachers after work and I made great friends there so my own experience was so positive.”
Mr Kearns says Pyongyang is an attractive city – a kind of socialist theme park with endless landmarks and monuments. He lived “within certain confines” and was minded by a driver and a guide.
His weeks were spent teaching English at three high schools – two of them were elite schools. He spent two days teaching at each school during a six day week.
“The discipline of the students was outrageously good and they were extremely keen to learn about the outside world, as were the teachers.”
Tim Kearns is currently relief teaching in Christchurch and, coincidentally, teaching English to South Korean students.
The sound of music (Kiwi-Indian style)
New Zealand musicians Raashi Malik and Rhian Sheehan are to travel to India next month to begin an eastern musical odyssey playing and recording with Indian artists to create what they hope will be a distinctly Kiwi-Indian sound.
The Wellington pair has established musical contacts in New Delhi and Mumbai where they will base themselves during their three-month sojourn.
Malik who has been singing solo for several years as well as with various Wellington groups like Rhombus says she is keen to incorporate folk and traditional Indian music into her own.
Having been born in New Zealand, she considers herself a hybrid. Her parents originally come from the Punjab and emigrated here 35 years ago.
“The real aim for this project is to work with Indian musicians on my own New Zealand influenced music as I think the combination of these styles would be an interesting sound and is important to me, as I am part of both cultures.”
Malik says they also hope to travel to other regions to experience different styles of music. “In particular, those of Rajasthan and if we have time, we would like to make our way across to West Bengal where I spent the majority of my time three years ago.”
Her boyfriend and main musical collaborator is Rhian Sheehan, one of New Zealand’s best known popular electronic music artists with three commercially available recordings – Paradigm Shift, Tiny Blue Biosphere and Music for Nature Documentaries.
They have written some songs together for the new album which will be in Malik’s name and produced by Sheehan. When they return to New Zealand later this year, the plan is to record core elements of the songs in a live studio setting and then meld in the Indian recordings.
While Malik has been to India several times, it will be Sheehan’s first trip to the subcontinent and “he is very excited about the musical possibilities and the history and culture of such an ancient and ever changing country”.
Raashi Malik says the album won’t be rushed as there is so much to do but she hopes it will be available within the next year or so.
Sunny side up for Skykiwi
The launch of online drama series Sunshine Beyond the Rain received surprising coverage in the mainstream news media when it was launched earlier this month.
A Morning Report package by RNZ reporter Tony Reid led to the item being included in TV3’s 6pm news hour by Kim Chisnall later that night.
Both reports were able to use the Chinese language drama series, which
is based on a group of fictional Chinese students living in Auckland, as a hook to refer to perceptions of the Chinese in New Zealand and issues surrounding the process of integration and acceptance.
Producer Sylvia Yang told RNZ there was some controversial material but it had nothing to do with drugs, gangs or murder because that was not how the majority of Chinese people lived their lives.
“The main reason for making a story like that is a way to tell our own stories to bridge a gap between us and the mainstream society, between the younger generation and the older generations, between New Zealand and Chinese.”
Skykiwi director Ally Zhang said Sunshine Beyond the Rain would screen on the website and its potential audience is the thousands of Chinese in New Zealand as well as viewers in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong who also use Skykiwi.
“As a migrant I can see a lot of negative things that are actually broadcast that for myself sometimes I just think we must try harder to make the mainstream media understand us and to know more about us. At least to know but not to understand as the first step is very important,” she told RNZ.
Both said the biggest challenges facing the Chinese people moving to New Zealand were the language, the distance from home and treading two cultures and it concerned them that the mainstream media tended only to report Asian crime such as the murder of the student Wan Biao earlier this year.
They say the series could also boost tourism in New Zealand. Over 90,000 Chinese tourists visit New Zealand every year and the programme makers hope the series will attract a new breed of independent Chinese travellers rather than those who take a package tour.
Sunshine Beyond the Rain, in Mandarin and made completely with young Auckland-based Chinese talent, can be viewed at this link:
Darpan moves to primetime
Triangle Television is moving its news programme Darpan-The Mirror to a more prominent Friday evening time slot, giving it a potentially bigger audience.
Darpan is a one-hour weekly current affairs and news-based programme with an Asian flavour. It currently screens at 2pm on Saturday afternoons and is repeated at 11pm the same day.
The producer and director of Darpan, Syed Kamal, says the aim of the programme is to bring to the viewers the important local and national issues that are unable to find a place in the mainstream media.
Triangle’s founder and chief executive Jim Blackman says the Auckland-based channel has been granted a degree of funding from NZ On Air to assist in the area of news and current affairs.
He said the decision was made to choose Darpan-The Mirror because “the type of programme Kamal was doing was worthy of being seen by a bigger audience”.
“Previously he was off peak and we felt it needed to come into a prime time spot”, Mr Blackman said. “It has created a niche for itself and identified with the diversity of the city of sails in reflecting the local picky issues.”
Mr Kamal came to New Zealand five years ago and is an Indian journalist with print, radio and television experience. He started his company Teamwork Productions with a small and dedicated team that includes news reader Sheetal Walia and presenter Javed Khan.
He says the programme is run on a shoe string but it has acquired a loyal and growing audience.
Scenes from behind the label
Perhaps the closest the documentary China Blue will ever come to be being screened in China was when it played at the Hong Kong International Film Festival in April.
It would certainly make uncomfortable viewing for the authorities were it to show elsewhere on the mainland but it was certainly one of the hits at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland and Wellington.
Following a full house the night before, a 3.45pm weekday screening in Wellington was also a virtual sell-out, prompting a hastily arranged extra screening.
Made by a San Francisco-based Israeli-born director Micha Peled, the film tells the story of young women working in one of dozens of jeans manufacturers in Shaxi, South China.
The film begins by asserting that one of the biggest migration’s in human history was now taking place as rural workers flock to the cities to find work in the factories of China’s economic miracle.
But that miracle has its price as we discover through the experiences of one of the film’s protagonists, 16-year-old Jasmine, a thread cutter at the Lifeng Factory, one of dozens of jean making factories in Shaxi, southern China.
Together with her co-workers, Jasmine is one of the millions of mostly young women who make up the largest pool of cheap workers in the world.
It is indeed a tribute to the filmmaker that we are able to get such an intimate and human scale view of the systemic labour abuses occurring in such factories.
After its success at the festival, this nuanced and detailed film will almost be certainly getting a wider cinema release, so don’t miss this rare view into the lives of unskilled itinerant workers in modern day China. Although we buy the products, it is a China most of us will never see.
Fidel Castro’s Chinese generals
As Cuban leader Fidel Castro battles ill health and his brother Raul steps in the limelight of leadership, it seems timely that there’s a new book about the Cuban revolution but this time from the perspectives of three Chinese-Cuban generals.
Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui and Moises Sio Wong are three ethnic Chinese who as young men in the 1950s, joined Castro’s revolutionary army in the two-year war to overthrow the Batista regime.
They all went on to become generals in the armed forces and are still active in the political leadership of the country today. While their stories are largely unknown outside Cuba, that is likely to change with the publication of Our History is Still Being Written: the Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution.
The autobiographical book also reveals the life of early Chinese immigrants to Cuba who were brought in as indentured labourers to supplement the dwindling supply of African slaves in the mid 19th century.
It is estimated that between 1848 and 1874, 141,000 Chinese were shipped to Cuba. They arrived on ships that transported them in often deadly conditions, to be put to work in back-breaking sugar plantations.
Our History is Still Being Written is available in New Zealand through Pathfinder Press. For more information, go to
NZ Trio to help woo Asian students
Acclaimed chamber music group, the New Zealand Trio, is to embark on a tour of North Asia in September playing to audiences in Hong Kong, China and South Korea.
The group which has been resident at the University of Auckland since 2004 will be accompanied by the university’s vice chancellor and other representatives. The academic delegation will attend meetings with community and education leaders and officials in each country.
The trio, consisting of violinist Justine Cormack, cellist Ashley Brown and pianist Sarah Watkins, will also lead master classes at several music conservatories. It is hoped these will include the famed Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing.
The New Zealand Trio will be performing one Auckland concert before leaving. It will be on Sunday August 27 at 5pm, at the University of Auckland’s School of Music.
Countdown to Miss Chinese showdown
The final countdown approaches for the twelve finalists in the 2006 Miss Chinese New Zealand Pageant to be held in the Aotea Centre in Auckland on September 2.
Organisers WTV have secured a number of Hong Kong television celebrities to attend and promote the event which will see the winner qualify for the Miss Chinese International Pageant in Hong Kong on February 3.
The TVB network stars include Anderson, Joe Ma, Charmaine Sheh and last year’s Miss Chinese International winner Leanne Li.
The crowned Miss Chinese New Zealand will also take home a new Toyota worth $22,000.
Fundraiser for Java quake victims
There will be a charity dinner to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake that struck the region around the Indonesian city of Jogjakarta in May.
Over 5000 people died and up to a million people were made homeless in the May 27 quake that struck central Java measuring 7.7 on the Richter Scale.
New Zealand’s Indonesian Association or PPI (Persatuan Pelajar Indonesia) will be holding the dinner which will include entertainment on August 25 at 7pm at the Ellerslie Convention Centre in Auckland.
Classical sounds from North India
Purbayan Chatterjee, sitar maestro and composer, is visiting The School of Music at The University of Auckland this week to teach an introduction to North Indian melodic and rhythmic performance practice.
He will also be performing a classical concert with Australia based Bobby Singh tabla player on Friday August 18 at 7.30pm in the School of Music Theatre.
Chatterjee is a gifted sitarist of the Senia-Maihar Gharana school of Allauddin Khan and a powerful force in the current Indian classical music scene.
Born in England, Bobby Singh studied tabla in Mumbai with the legendary Nikhil Ghosh and Aneesh Pradhan and now divides his time between India and Australia, where he is a performer on the world music circuit as well as the Indian classical scene.
Tribute to legendary Bollywood star
The Cultural Forum of India is holding a musical tribute to Raj Kapoor (1924-1988), the legendary Indian actor, director and producer of Bollywood movies.
According to Wikipedia, Indian film historians and movie buffs speak of him as the "Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema” since he often portrayed a tramp-like figure who despite adversity was still cheerful and honest.
His fame spread world-wide. He was adored by audiences in large parts of Africa, the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, China and Southeast Asia, and his movies were global commercial successes.
The Raj Kapoor – Showman of the Millennium event will be on Monday August 28 at the Dorothy Winston Centre at Auckland Girls Grammar School.
Indian Newslink is supporting the event with articles appearing in its August issues.

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