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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 importance and strength of the China-New Zealand relationship was honoured on Tuesday 16 May 2017 with a high-level celebration to mark the 10th anniversary of the New Zealand Centre (NZC) at Peking University. The celebration was attended by more than fifty representatives from the New Zealand Government, eight New Zealand partner universities, Peking University, and other Chinese universities as partners in New Zealand studies. The New Zealand Centre, launched at Peking University in 2007 by both Professor Xu Zhihong President of Peking University and Hon. Mr. Winston Peters New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, is a unique and productive partnership between Peking University and all of the eight New Zealand public universities.

    The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Education New Zealand (ENZ) also support the NZC in the past decade. Ten years on, a delegation of the New Zealand Government headed by the Hon Paul Goldsmith, New Zealand Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment attended the celebration along with Professor Lin Jianhua, President of Peking University, and representatives of all of the NZC’s New Zealand members.

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

    The event on May 16 commenced with a meeting in Northeast Hall of the beautiful Linhuxuan Garden between President of Peking University Professor Lin Jianhua, Professor Stuart McCutcheon, Vice-Chancellor of University of Auckland (UoA), Professor Jenny Dixon, Chair of the NZC Advisory Board and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UoA, Professor Tony Ballantyne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities) of University of Otago, Professor Tony Browne, Chair of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre and Chair of Victoria University of Wellington Confucius Institute, Professor Alister Jones, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Waikato (UoW) ,Mr Michael O’Shaughnessy, Director of International Relations of Massey University,and Mr Fu Weidong, China Representative of UoA. Dr Li Yansong, Vice President of Peking University, Professor Li Shujing, Deputy Dean of the School of Foreign Languages, Professor Liu Shusen, Director of the NZC, and Ms Ouyang Xiaoling, Deputy Chief of the School of Advanced Agricultural Studies were present at the meeting.

    During this time, Associate Professor Liu Hongzhong, Secretary of the NZC, escorted a group of VIP guests for the celebration comprising the Hon Paul Goldsmith, New Zealand Ambassador, Mr John McKinnon, Mr Grant McPherson, Chief Executive, ENZ, Mr Paul Stocks Deputy Chief Executive, MBIE, Ms Alexandra Grace, Regional Director – Greater China and North Asia, Counselor (Education), ENZ, Mr Al Ross, Counselor (Science and Innovation), New Zealand Embassy; and other ministerial staff on a visit to the NZC, located at the edge of the iconic Weiming Lake in the Tan Siu Lin Garden. On the visit to the office of NZC, whose walls were decorated with photos on important functions in the history of NZC, such as Hon. John Key’s visit to PKU and to the NZC office, and PKU students who attended the Study Abroad programme in New Zealand, Associate Professor Liu Hongzhong welcomed the guests and introduced what the NZC has achieved in the past ten years in promoting New Zealand studies at Peking University and the academic exchanges and collaboration between Peking University and New Zealand partner universities.

    In the NZC’s office, Dr. Ma Naiqiang, one of the Study Abroad programme escort teachers together with Centre students Zhang Jiawei, Wang Yin and Exliman Exmaiti, shared with the guests their experiences in New Zealand and studying the New Zealand History and Culture course offered by the NZC. Four of the NZC Liaison Interns, Ms Matilda Gaby, Mr Cameron Toogood, Mr Tony Fiddis and Mr Alex Walsh accompanied the group, talking about their role at the Centre, their studies and student life in Beijing. The NZC was privileged to have a special inscription by the Hon Paul Goldsmith. The visit was followed by a short tour to the beautiful Weiming Lake at Peking University.

    A third group including Professor Robyn Longhurst, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, UoW, and Dr Sarah-Jane Tiakiwai, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Maori, UoW, and representatives from the other seven New Zealand universities met in the West Hall, Linhuxuan, for the briefing of the NZC’s works. Ms Libby Passau, UoA International Office Coordinator and Secretary to the NZC Advisory Board, outlined the NZC’s history and activities over the last ten years. Representatives of several Chinese universities were also present at this meeting, including Professor Zhang Jian, Dean of the School of English and International Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU), Mr. Li Jianjun, Director of Asia-Pacific Studies Centre (BFSU), Professor Han Feng of National Institute of International Strategy, China Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Zhai Kun of the School of International Relations (PKU), Professor Chen Xiaochen, Director of International Studies Department, Chongyang Institute of Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, Professor Chen Hong, Director of New Zealand Centre and Deputy Director of Asia-Pacific Studies,East China Normal University, and Associate Professor Fei Sheng, Assistant Director of Pacific Studies Centre, Sun Yat-sen University. Ms Megan Hawkins, the fifth NZC Liaison Intern, was also present at the meeting.

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

    The three groups then met together in the delightful garden courtyard behind the Linhuxuan Garden, where Professor Liu Shusen welcomed the assembled guests and hosted the celebration ceremony. President Lin Jianhua acknowledged New Zealand Government and all the New Zealand partner universities for the long-term support to the NZC in the past decades and spoke of the important role of the NZC in enhancing the academic and research relationships between Peking University and the New Zealand partner universities. He also spoke of his pleasure in welcoming the ministerial and university delegations attending the event, with particular mention of the signing in April 2016 of a Memorandum of Understanding in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which was witnessed by both Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. President Lin Jinhua valued it as a significant event affirming and strengthening the relationships underpinning the NZC, especially when China and New Zealand celebrate the 45th anniversary of the diplomatic relation in 2017.

    Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith thanked President Lin Jianhua for his warm welcome and said he was delighted to attend the NZC’s 10th anniversary. Minister Goldsmith shared his experiences of participating in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation hosted by the Chinese Government and stressed that New Zealand supports the Belt and Road initiative. After mentioning that this year marks the 45th anniversary of New Zealand’s diplomacy with China and the 90th anniversary of Rewi Alley’s first arrival in China, Minister Goldsmith reinforced the importance of the wide range of political, economic and educational connections between China and New Zealand and congratulated the NZC on its contribution to the ever growing relationship between the two countries.

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

    As Chair of the NZC Advisory Board, Professor Jenny Dixon acknowledged the efforts of several individuals at UoA and PKU, supported by the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing, in establishing the Centre. She noted the increasing numbers of New Zealand academics coming to Peking University as NZC Visiting Fellows. A new development is that PKU colleagues are now able to travel to New Zealand to continue their research collaborations with NZC Visiting Fellows. The NZC has offered a New Zealand History and Culture course each year, supported by an impressive group of New Zealand interns, students studying at universities in Beijing. An annual summer school is held in one of the New Zealand partner universities for PKU students. Finally, Professor Dixon observed the increasingly broad range of disciplines represented by the Visiting Fellows at the NZC. She warmly acknowledged all those who had contributed to the organisation of the event.

    The celebrations concluded with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by President Lin Jianhua and Minister Hon Paul Goldsmith, followed by the taking of photographs to record what had been a very significant and enjoyable afternoon.

    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. The celebration serves not only as a landmark for the 10th anniversary of the NZC but also a planned prospect for the future of NZC and its commitments to advancing China-New Zealand ties in higher education and beyond.


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