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Mandarin Superstars Encourage Others To Try Out Phrases

Nine New Zealanders encouraged others to have a go trying out a foreign language and to enjoy the new cultural experiences and understandings language could bring. At an event at Parliament in Wellington yesterday, nine of the 11 Mandarin Superstars appointed as part of New Zealand Chinese Language Week 2021 celebrations spoke about their journey with the language. The two others are Auckland-based and were unable to attend the event because of COVID restrictions.

Several talked about learning Chinese as being like “climbing a mountain without a top”, but that it was satisfying and worthwhile – Rory English, a Wellington businessman, said the important thing was not to stop, not to give up.

Laura Carter, a Canterbury farmer, told event participants that when she started learning Chinese, her father told her the world would be her oyster.

While her sheep and cattle may not appreciate it, several of her friends shared her affection for Chinese and they were learning more together.

This year’s Mandarin Superstars are:

  • Rhiannon McKinnon, KiwiWealth acting CEO from Wellington;
  • Rory English, Okay lead strategy manager from Wellington;
  • Rowan Ellis, business development manager from the Bay of Plenty;
  • Laura Carter, farmer from Christchurch;
  • Roan O’Sullivan, school student from Lower Hutt;
  • Alex Fraser, bus driver from Christchurch;
  • Wendell Cooke, project co-ordinator from Wellington;
  • Ethan Jones, Asia NZ staffer from Auckland;
  • Ellie Burns, Victoria University student from Wellington;
  • Dean Rawlings, policy analyst from Wellington; and
  • Ha Nghiem, school student from Christchurch.

Videos of the Mandarin Superstars sharing their stories are avaiable on:

Each year, Mandarin Superstars are appointed to share their Chinese language learning journey, and to encourage other New Zealanders to give it a try.

New Zealand Chinese Language Week Trust chair Jo Coughlan says that’s fitting as the theme for this year’s celebrations is food and hospitality. These are shared values in our cultures, she says.

New Zealand Chinese Language Week is a New Zealand-driven initiative to promote the learning of Chinese and encourage people to take part in fun activities around Chinese language and culture.

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