New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said in a congratulations video that learning Chinese is beneficial to both countries and a lot of fun, as the first Chinese Language Week of New Zealand is launched at East Girls College in Wellington on Monday.
Hekia Parata, the New Zealand education minister, said the events during the Chinese Language Week will give New Zealand students opportunities to learn more Chinese and better understand Chinese culture.
Lucy, year-13 student at Wellington East Girls College, said that the five years of learning Chinese is a very interesting experience. It gave her a lot of opportunities to go to China and learn a lot of Chinese culture.
Learning Chinese is quite beneficial for her future, as Lucy said in the launching ceremony. Since China and New Zealand have a strong economic relationship, Lucy believes herself to have great advantages in job market after mastering Chinese skills.
"Who knows, maybe my future best friend can only speak Chinese, " said Lucy.
Lucy and Minister Parata, together with other students in the college, danced during the ceremony following Chinese pop-song Little Apple.
Patrick English, executive director for the New Zealand China Council and the former New Zealand consul general served in Guangzhou, told students his own experience of learning Chinese. As one of the trustee of the Chinese Language Week, English said it is very important to learn Chinese at a comparatively young age.
By using the Chinese word "Da Jia Hao" and "Xie Xie," John Key practiced his Chinese Language skill in a congratulations video released Monday.
Key said in the video: "China and New Zealand relationship continues to grow from strength to strength. There're so much engagements with our peoples. So, of course learning Chinese here in New Zealand, learning Mandarin, in some cases Cantonese, is very important thing to do."
Xu Lin, the chief secretary of Confucius Institute Headquarters, said in a congratulations letter that New Zealand Chinese Language Week is the first Chinese Language Week organized by a Western country with a "bottom-up" approach.
"The launch of New Zealand Chinese Language Week demonstrates an urgent desire by New Zealand people to learn Chinese language and to understand Chinese culture in the context of the comprehensive development of China-New Zealand relationship and the deepening of people-to-people exchanges," said Xu.
According to the organizer, Chinese Language Week of New Zealand will be celebrated during the second week of September each year to coincide with the Chinese Moon Festival. Meanwhile, a number of initiatives will be running throughout the year on an ongoing basis, such as Chinese cultural performances, art exhibitions, language lessons on public broadcasters, language seminars, library corners, essay competitions and training courses for professionals.