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NZers speak up on Asian links


MEDIA RELEASE
14 October 2003

NZers speak up on Asian links

New Zealanders have responded strongly to an Asia 2000 call for ideas about this country's future links with Asia.

Close to 150 public contributions have been received in just six weeks under the joint public-private sector Seriously Asia initiative, which is looking for ways to put new life and energy into New Zealand's trade and other relationships with Asia.

"Contributors to date have come up with a huge range of suggestions," says Asia 2000's Executive Director, Christopher Butler.

"We are looking for practical ideas to make the most of the many opportunities that currently exist for New Zealand within the Asian region, and those are what we are getting. I urge everyone with an interest in New Zealand's future options to visit the website and have their say," Mr Butler says.

Submissions to Seriously Asia close at the end of the week, on October 17. They can be made through a dedicated website, www.seriouslyasia.org.nz

Ideas submitted are being collated by issues groups working on the broad themes of trade, politics, innovation and culture. Along with input from regional workshops and from within Asia, the ideas will be distilled into practical proposals at an Asia Forum to be held at Parliament on November 26. The Forum will be hosted by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Some of the suggestions in public contributions received so far include:

- provide scholarships for student teachers to spend time in the Asian region and make study of an Asian language and/or cultures a part of teacher training;

- develop a national framework and strategy for Asian studies education;

- ensure that all universities include reference to Asia in their mission statements;

- tap into Kiwis living in Asia to expand New Zealand business in the region, including by use of Internet forums;

- establish regional clusters of enterprises interested in doing business in Asia;

- celebrate cultural diversity in a week-long festival at the time of Chinese New Year;

- take stock of all existing resources for migrants and establish one-stop resource centres for migrants and widely advertise their availability;

- develop a networking database to link new migrants with interested New Zealanders;

- enable Asian communities to become actively involved in sports through regional sporting trusts;

- establish a website for international students to inform them on New Zealand life; - base journalists in the Asian region to provide robust coverage of Asian issues;

- organise visits by students and young business people to Asian business centres;

- produce a list of cultural "do and don'ts" that can be distributed widely to increase cultural understanding;

- establish "New Zealand centres" in Asia to further national interests and promote the activities of individual enterprises;

- foster collective efforts between the public and private sectors, and between business groups with a common interest in particular Asian countries.

All contributions received to date can be viewed in full on the website.

ENDS

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