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South Island Expansion Of CAPE To Help Businesses, Teachers, And Students

The Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) have launched their South Island programmes in Queenstown today, including a new tool to help tourism operators embrace visitors from the Asia-Pacific region.

CAPEs are university-led centres of excellence for languages, culture, politics, and trade.

Their aim is to help New Zealanders be better prepared to do business and engage with the Asia-Pacific region, by deepening their understanding of the culture, language, enterprise, politics, and spirit of people in North Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

The Southeast Asia and Latin America CAPEs are hosted by Victoria University of Wellington. The North Asia CAPE is hosted by the University of Auckland. They are supported by the University of Otago and the University of Waikato.

Even with the challenges of COVID-19 and closed borders, CAPEs have demonstrated their worth by supporting more than 10,000 New Zealanders through programmes and events and over 9,000 teachers and students through education programmes and resources.

"The CAPEs are pleased to be increasing our footprint in Aotearoa, by increasing our activities to support businesses, students and teachers in the South Island develop New Zealand’s capabilities to engage with the Asia-Pacific region," says CAPE Management Committee Chair Blair McRae, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) of the University of Wellington.

CAPE South Island programmes will include business workshops and seminars, resources for businesses, digital tours, curriculum support for teachers, and educational programmes for students.

One such programme, launched today at Queenstown Resort College, is the CAPE Culture Ready Training Tool.

Designed by the University of Otago, this enables small and medium-sized tourism operators to increase their cultural awareness and improve business preparedness to serve visitors from the Asia-Pacific region.

University of Otago Tourism Professor Neil Carr says: "There is potential for the growth enjoyed by these markets to continue once the pandemic has passed.

"The training programme will equip front line staff, managers, marketing and sales staff working in tourism and hospitality, including hotels, restaurants, attractions and transport with cultural awareness to enhance the visitor experience."

The project was established and will be managed by the University of Otago's Professor Neil Carr, Dr Craig Lee, Dr Wiebke Finkler, and Dr Ismail Shaheer.

Nationally, CAPEs harness academic expertise, evidence-based research, stakeholder experience and industry acumen to help ensure best practice with these regions. The universities affiliated with the CAPEs offer contributions across multiple disciplines, as well as industry acumen and strategic linkages.

Today's South Island launch event, held at Skyline Queenstown, heard from guest speakers Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult; Executive Director of Business NZ's export and manufacturing divisions, Catherine Beard; University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor, External Engagement, Professor Tony Ballantyne; and CAPE Management Committee Chair Blair McRae, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Engagement), Victoria University of Wellington.

For more information on CAPEs visit
For more on the CAPE Culture Ready Training Tool visit

About Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence:
The North Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs) are committed to enhancing New Zealand’s economic engagement and cultural understanding with the Asia-Pacific region, and building New Zealanders' understanding and ability to engage. The CAPEs offer events, programmes, scholarships, internships, and other initiatives to support New Zealand's businesses, schools, communities and students to understand the key countries of the Asia-Pacific region better. 

The Southeast Asia and Latin America CAPEs are hosted by Victoria University of Wellington. The North Asia CAPE is hosted by the University of Auckland. Together with the Universities of Waikato and the University of Otago, they deliver the service offerings of the three CAPEs. The CAPEs Advisory Board offers guidance on the strategic direction and approach of the CAPEs, ensuring that our work is underpinned by a wealth of expertise and experience across national and international business, trade, education and cultures.

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