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  • New Zealand Centre Partners Unite for the 10th Anniversary

    15/05/2017 - Peking University hosted a successful 10th Anniversary celebration for the New Zealand Centre on the Yanyuan Campus, inviting representatives from partner New Zealand universities, diplomatic envoys, and others working to make the Centre a working success.

    The New Zealand Centre at Peking University is a unique partnership between one of China’s most prestigious universities and academics and researchers at all eight of New Zealand universities. It promotes the study of New Zealand in China and contributes to the strengthening of the China/New Zealand relationship. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the Centre, giving cause for celebration of the milestone.

    To mark the occasion, New Zealand’s Minister for Tertiary Education Paul Goldsmith received the invitation of Peking University President Lin Jianhua, to attend celebrations and unveil a commemorative plaque marking ten years of successful cooperation between China and New Zealand. For New Zealand Centre Director Professor Liu Shusen, the occasion marked the culmination of 10 years of consistent work and engagement serving to enhance the China-New Zealand relationship. University of Auckland Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon joined Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Engagement) Professor Jenny Dixon (also Chair of the New Zealand Centre Advisory Board), the University of Otago’s Professor Tony Ballantyne, Victoria University’s Tony Browne (former ambassador to Beijing and current Chair of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Institute, as well as Chair of the Victoria University of Wellington Confucius Institute), Canterbury University’s representatives Alister Jones and Robyn Longhurst, and Massey University’s International Director Michael O’Shaughnessy, all joined for the commemorations.

    Peking University President Lin Jianhua speaks with Auckland University Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon.

    New Embassy representatives were also in attendance, with New Zealand Ambassador John McKinnon leading a delegation of cross-agency staff including Al Ross, Counsellor for Science and Innovation, Grant McPherson from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Representatives from the international relations and affairs sections of several New Zealand universities were also in attendance including Weidong Fu, the local representative for Auckland University.

    The Centre was originally a joint initiative between the University of Auckland and Peking University (PKU) in 2007. The New Zealand Centre was formally opened on 21 May 2007 by Foreign Minister Winston Peters in the presence of Professor Xu Zhihong, President of Peking University, H E Chen Mingming, former ambassador to New Zealand, and Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Auckland. Mr Geoff Dangerfield, Chief Executive, Ministry of Economic Development, gave the inaugural lecture.

    Peking University appointed a Director (Professor Liu Shusen) and Deputy Director (Professor Liu Hongzhong) to oversee the academic life of the Centre and to be responsible to the university for its activities and its financial performance.

    A little later the Universities of Otago, Canterbury and Waikato and the Victoria University of Wellington joined the Centre. In 2014 the remaining three New Zealand universities, Lincoln, Massey and Auckland University of Technology, became members. The Centre is also supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Education New Zealand.

    Peking University President Lin Jianhua receives the university leaders' delegation.

    The New Zealand Advisory Board consists of subscribing members who advise on the Centre’s programme, engage with its activities and generate support. The Board is currently chaired by Professor Jenny Dixon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Engagement), University of Auckland. Administrative support is provided by Libby Passau, International Office Coordinator, University of Auckland.

    In April 2016 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The MOU was signed by President Lin Jianhua of Peking University and two New Zealand representatives, Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Guilford, Victoria University of Wellington, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Engagement) Professor Jenny Dixon, University of Auckland. The ceremony was witnessed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key. The MOU affirms and strengthens the relationships underpinning the New Zealand Centre and reflects the importance of the Centre to New Zealand and its Chinese university partner.

    Peking University President Lin Jianhua opens the celebrations at the Chen Shouren Garden.

    A New Zealand presence is maintained at the Centre through the appointment of Visiting Fellows from amongst the academic staff of the New Zealand universities. Thirty Visiting Fellowships have been funded since 2012. In 2016 nine Visiting Fellowships were funded for visits to Beijing to take place in 2017. The Visiting Fellows are academic staff from the University of Auckland, AUT University, University of Canterbury, Massey University, University of Otago and the University of Waikato. The Fellows are co-hosted by research colleagues at various departments at PKU and the New Zealand Centre.

    In 2016 the ‘Visiting Research Fellowship to New Zealand’ was established, providing an opportunity for New Zealand academics who have held a New Zealand Centre Visiting Fellowship to host a return visit from their PKU research collaborators. This Fellowship aims to provide the opportunity to further strengthen the research relationship resulting from the original New Zealand Centre Fellowship. To date three Visiting Research Fellows have visited New Zealand, two to the University of Auckland and one to Victoria University of Wellington. Three further Visiting Research Fellowship to New Zealand were funded (Universities of Auckland, Otago and Canterbury) and those visits will take place in 2017.

    The New Zealand: History and Culture course, which has been offered since 2008, is one of several elective courses made available to PKU undergraduates who must complete a required number of courses taught in English in order to fulfil their degree requirements. The course, coordinated by Professor Paul Clark (Professor of Chinese, University of Auckland) and supported by the Centre Directors, is unique amongst the courses offered in English out of the Department of Foreign Languages at Peking University, as it is organised in close collaboration with the New Zealand Centre and its staff of directors, and interns.

    Peking Univesity President Lin Jianhua with New Zealand Minister for Tertiary Education Paul Goldsmith at the unveiling.

    The course, which is offered in the first semester of PKU’s academic year (September – December) is also a rarity at PKU in being taught entirely by visiting lecturers from abroad. It is notable that the students enrolling in the paper come from a broad range of academic disciplines and interests, which enriches class discussion. Enrolments in the course number between 60 and 70 students. Up until 2014 the majority of lectures were delivered by visiting academics, government officials and business leaders – all providing insight into New Zealand’s history and culture across a broad range of topics. However from 2014 the entire course has been taught by a New Zealand academic with just the occasional guest lecture. Dr Laurence Simmons, University of Auckland taught the course in 2014 and Dr Anne Ford, University of Otago did so in both 2015 and 2016. This year a team coordinated by Associate Professor Kerry Taylor, School of Humanities, Massey University, will teach the course.

    10th Anniversary celebration participants gather for a group photograph.

    An annual summer school is held in New Zealand for PKU students. This summer school rotates amongst the eight New Zealand universities and has been widely acknowledged as a successful and popular programme. Established in 2009 the school has been offered at the University of Auckland (2009-2010); University Otago (2011), Victoria University of Wellington (2013 - 2014) University of Canterbury (2015 -2016) and University of Waikato (2017).

    A ‘New Zealand Centre Liaison Internship’ was established in 2009 and New Zealand students studying in Beijing are able to apply for the position. Appointed on a semester basis, the interns tutor on the undergraduate course and provide various support for the Centre’s activities, e.g., coordination and hosting of the Visiting Fellows, preparing material for the NZC website etc. Five interns have been appointed in 2017.

    Visiting academics from New Zealand frequently deliver lectures and seminars at the Centre and it features regularly on the itineraries of New Zealand government ministers when they are in Beijing.

    The Centre is now looking forward to the next phase of its development when it becomes a catalyst for greater interest in China within New Zealand and New Zealand within China. Current plans include broadening the interdisciplinary role for the Centre and increasing the opportunities for senior New Zealand academics to develop research collaborations with China, supported by business and jointly funded government programmes.

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