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Minister Opens Chinese Association Conference

Ethnic Affairs Minister George Hawkins officially opened the New Zealand Chinese Association 2000 Conference in Wellington on Saturday morning.

Delegates gathered at the conference to discuss ways to support, strengthen, and uphold the economic social, economic, and cultural wellbeing of Chinese New Zealanders.

"I am honoured to have met with the New Zealand Chinese Association. The delegates are some of the most distinguished leaders of the Chinese community here in New Zealand," George Hawkins said.

George Hawkins spoke of the importance of preserving Chinese languages.

"We must ensure people of the Chinese community continue to speak and enjoy the thoughts and expressions of their native tongue.

"Recently, this Government decided to offer Chinese as a School Certificate subject. That decision places Chinese on an equal footing with other international languages taught in New Zealand schools.

"Language is what will help their children and indeed their children's children to identify with where they came from.

"And as their children grow, it is this language that will instil pride of having experienced growing up in a family that shares two languages and perhaps two cultures," George Hawkins said.

"There is much for the Chinese community to celebrate.

"The New Zealand Chinese Association demonstrates strong and effective leadership on behalf of Chinese New Zealanders.

"I welcome the new season of partnership and dialogue between the Chinese Association and this Labour/Alliance Government," George Hawkins said.

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