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The Challenge 

New Zealand Chinese Language Week (NZCLW) is a nonprofit Kiwi-driven initiative that aims to increase Chinese language learning in New Zealand. The initiative is the first of its kind in any Western country and aims to leverage the rapidly strengthening economic and cultural relationship between New Zealand and China.

China is now our largest trading partner, and a significant source of students. In addition to New Zealand’s growing Chinese community, China is also New Zealand’s second largest tourism market. Despite these opportunities, Chinese language learning in New Zealand remains low. Although increasing, in 2018 the New Zealand China Council reported that only 2 percent of secondary students are studying Chinese.

In 2018, the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s annual ‘Perceptions of Asia’ report saw that almost four out of five New Zealanders think learning an Asian language will benefit Kiwi children. 81% of respondents believe it is important for NZ to develop economic and cultural ties with Asia. Given the significance of these economic and cultural opportunities for New Zealand, the NZCLW Trust seeks to encourage New Zealanders to ‘give Chinese a go’.

NZCLW is a registered Charitable Trust co-founded by Raymond Huo MP and Jo Coughlan in 2014. Silvereye has project managed the Week annually since 2015.

The challenge? On a very limited budget, our small team must secure sponsorship, build key stakeholder relationships and coordinate and promote hundreds of events around New Zealand.

The team must also manage social media strategy and media relations, publish and donate a trilingual children’s book to schools and libraries, run online community initiatives, hosts stakeholders events and provide support to participants.

Key Deliverables

Objective 1: To drive a conversation on the benefits and accessibility of learning Chinese in New Zealand.

Objective 2: To raise awareness of the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism and the opportunities available to participating New Zealand organisations.

Objective 3: To increase engagement with Chinese language learning among young New Zealanders.

Objective 4: To build understanding and support within Government for learning Chinese languages in New Zealand schools.


Our Approach 

In 2019, we approached NZCLW with five years of accumulated knowledge and experience. Meeting a shifting social, political and economic climate, research is carried out to test the ‘mood’, anticipate challenges, potential themes, key stakeholder groups and opportunities.

In pursuit of our key deliverables, we sought to convey the following three core messages in alignment with the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism and our tourism theme.

Key Messages

  • Giving Chinese a go is an achievable and accessible pursuit

  • Learning Chinese languages opens myriad professional and personal opportunities

  • Improving the China capability in your region will lead to an enhanced experience for Chinese visitors and improve business opportunities for your region

As an umbrella oraganisation, we encourage our community to take advantage of our networks, resources and available grants to celebrate NZCLW by hosting events in their local community.

Presenting awards to our new Youth Ambassadors, we hosted our main stakeholder function in the Beehive with Associate Minister of Education Jenny Salesa and Her Excellency Ms. Wu Xi Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand in attendance. Other core projects included the Mandarin Superstars programme, the publication of trilingual children’s book The Marae Visit, the #5Days5Phrases competition and an alumni panel discussion at VUW.

In 2019 we also introduced NZCLW Dumpling Day. Born from the idea that food crosses all barriers, we ran the programme as a pilot to test the ‘appetite’ of our audience, calling on Kiwis to nominate their favourite dumpling dish by posting a photo with the hashtag #NZCLWDumpling Day.

As a result, we had dumpling tastings at 9 Auckland Countdown supermarkets, a demonstration hosted by Wellington Cable Car and free workshops held at New Flavour restaurant in Auckland. Dumpling Day was featured on breakfast television – the AM Show and on Magic FM radio, in addition to receiving recognition from Nadia Magazine and the general public in over 30 posts on Instagram.


Our Success

We were so delighted to see New Zealand really get behind the Week in 2019 with 290 initiatives hosted across the country (exceeding 2018 by 163%), and fantastic organic engagement via social media.

Launching our Youth Ambassadors programme to profile New Zealand’s most proficient Chinese speaking high school students, we also expanded our Mandarin Superstars programme and published our third children’s book, trilingual The Marae Visit.

We received video messages of support from politicians up and down the country, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Featured on The AM Show, RNZ and Stuff, we also saw the Week promoted in schools, libraries, airports across New Zealand.

In 2019, achievements include –

  • Reaching an audience of 1.49 million (a 73.7% on 2018).

  • Seeing a 41% increase in media items (including feature interviews on The AM Show, Radio NZ, MagicTalk and a dedicated collection of articles on Stuff).

  • Reaching 284,266 individual accounts on Facebook and Instagram (44.9% increase on 2018)

  • Seeing 83,992 impressions on Instagram (1,041% increase on 2018)

  • Securing 14 videos of support from a diverse range of community leaders including; Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the Opposition Hon Simon Bridges, Speak Rt Hon Trevor Mallard, the Minister and Associate Minister for Tourism Kelvin Davis and Peeni HenareCEO of MBIE Paul Stocks and various mayors.

  • For the second time in the history of New Zealand’s Parliament, Chinese was spoken formally in the Chamber when Raymond Huo MP read the Parliamentary Prayer in Chinese.

  • We were approached by Countdown supermarkets who translated signage in nearly 20 Auckland stores and held in-store dumpling tastings

  • Were recognised at the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism closing ceremony in Guangzhou.

  • Grew Trust managed initiatives such as the annual publication and donation of a trilingual children’s book, production of the Useful Phrases booklet, running the #5Days5Phrases challenge, managing a stakeholder event, designing and distributing posters.

  • Introduced new initiatives such as NZCLW Dumpling Day, an alumni panel event and Youth Ambassadorship programme.

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