“My greatest regret in business is I don’t have the skills to speak the Chinese language, due to the significant amount of time and impact the Chinese creative industries have had on my career. We are intimately linked to China and a good understanding of each other’s language can only further advance this already rich relationship.”

Sir Richard Taylor, Weta Workshop

“[Chinese Language Week] sounds like a worthy initiative that builds on successful bilateral relations between New Zealand and China, and acknowledges the important role of Chinese language in this growing relationship. On behalf of Wellington City Council I would like to express my support for the New Zealand Chinese Language Week initiative”

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

“Chinese Language Week is an excellent initiative that we would be happy to endorse as we strongly believe that improving the depth and breadth of engagement and understanding is critically important to the long term relationships between China and New Zealand.”


“This is an idea coming at the right time, and the Council and Mayor Len Brown are very supportive of such an initiative coming to life nationally.”

Auckland City Council

“We would welcome the establishment of a Chinese Language Week in New Zealand.”

New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO

“Thank you for your letter with respect to NZ Chinese Language Week and Weta Workshop would be interested in supporting this initiative.”

Weta Workshop

“Immigration New Zealand is supportive of the establishment of this initiative, and we would be happy to assist with its promotion through our wide networks”

Immigration NZ

“Our Society has a long term goal to promote Mandarin throughout New Zealand and we are very interested to work with your people in this regard.”

New Zealand China Friendship Society

“The Foundation would be pleased to support and promote this event.”

asia:nz – The Asia New Zealand Foundation

“We’d be supportive of a language week, to encourage a shared understanding and promote the benefits of a growing closer relationship between New Zealand and China.” 

Christchurch International Airport

“We are very keen to support the idea. [The Albany-based Asia Dialogues group] would welcome an opportunity to host a meeting with you and the others involved in this initiative.”

Massey University

“The University of Canterbury, its College of Arts (where degree level Chinese courses are offered) and the Confucius Institute at the University of Canterbury applaud your proposal and would like to provide our full support.”

University of Canterbury

“Victoria University of Wellington, in particular the Confucius Institute and the Contemporary China Research Centre, are very keen to support this in whatever way we can.”

Victoria University

“The relationship between New Zealand and China should never be under estimated and while we tend to focus on the economic and trade aspects, we need to invest more heavily into culture and language. The New Zealand Chinese Language Week will make a difference to how we engage and work with China in the years and generations to come.”

Sir Don McKinnon, Chair New Zealand China Council


John McKinnon
Ambassador to China and Mongolia

John McKinnon was educated at Nelson College, Victoria University of Wellington and the London School of Economics and Political Sciences. In May 1974 John McKinnon joined the then Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was posted to China as a second secretary in 1978, after two years Chinese language training in Hong Kong. His subsequent postings in the diplomatic service were to Washington (1985-1986), Canberra (1986-1990) and New York (1992-1995) – the last as Deputy Permanent Representative during New Zealand's previous term on the United Nations Security Council.

In 1995 John McKinnon moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as director of the External Assessments Bureau. He was then appointed New Zealand’s Ambassador to China and Mongolia, and was stationed in Beijing from February 2001 to November 2004. He returned to New Zealand as Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, responsible for New Zealand’s relations with Asia and the Americas. John McKinnon was Secretary of Defence from December 2006 to November 2012. During his time in the role, the New Zealand Government published the Defence White Paper 2010. On leaving Defence, John McKinnon was appointed Executive Director of the Asia New Zealand Foundation. He held that position from December 2012 to September 2014. John McKinnon took up the role of New Zealand Ambassador to China and Mongolia in January 2015.

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Mr. Wang Lutong
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue

HE Wang Lutong has held a number of positions as detailed below. He is married with one son.  

1992-1996, Staff member , Attaché, Information Department, Ministry of Foreign Affair, People's Republic of China
1996-2000, Attaché, Third Secretary, Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2000-2002, Third Secretary, Deputy Director, Information Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2002-2003, Second Secretary, Director, Department of West Europe Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2003-2005, First Secretary, Counsellor, General Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

2005-2007, Counsellor and Director, Office of Foreign Affairs Leading Group, CPC Central Committee
2007-2011, Associate Counsel, Office of Foreign Affairs Leading Group, CPC Central Committee
2011-2013, Counsel, Office of Foreign Affairs Leading Group, CPC Central Committee
2013-now, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to New Zealand, the Cook Islands and Niue

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Raymond Huo

Raymond Huo has just returned to Parliament having served two terms previously from 2008-2014, being the Labour Party’s first Chinese-born MP and holding a number of portfolios including Statistics, Export Education, Associate Justice, Ethnic Affairs and Building & Construction. Prior to returning to Parliament Raymond was a partner at Shieff Angland, a specialist law firm in Auckland from 2014 to March 2017. Since arriving in New Zealand in 1994 from Beijing, Raymond has traversed careers in both journalism (New Zealand Herald) and law (Brookfields etc.). He is a Trustee on the board of the Asia New Zealand Foundation and honorary advisor to the New Zealand China Council.

In April 2013 he was appointed as Honorary Professor of Law at his alma mater, China University of Political Science and Law. This appointment was matched by Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law, where he is now an Honorary Senior Associate.

In April 2012, Raymond was presented with the Green Angel Clean Tech Award in Beijing by China’s Shougang Group and the Auckland-based LanzaTech, recognising his contribution in promoting NZ and LanzaTech’s renewable technologies in China.

Raymond has published seven books including two Chinese-English dictionaries as joint editor/translator. His latest book 'The New Zealand Quartet’ covers, among other things, New Zealand’s common law legal system, journalism and Chinese literature.   


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Johanna Coughlan

Jo Coughlan has a successful career in business, governance, government, local government and the not- for- profit sectors.

Jo has held a range of senior communications, public relations and marketing roles in major corporates across global manufacturing, banking and finance and insurance brands.

Jo gained significant parliamentary and political experience as Press Secretary to Rt Hon Don McKinnon, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.

With senior political and corporate experience, Jo established her consultancy Coughlan Communications in 2000 and then Silvereye Communications in 2007 to provide strategic communications and government relations advice to an extensive range of clients across New Zealand and globally.

She is also a Director and co-owner, along with Conor English, of Agribusiness New Zealand Limited specialising in exporting, investment and agricultural projects internationally.

With a growing business interest in China/NZ relations, Jo was invited to join the Prime Minister’s Delegation to China in 2013. The high level delegation reflected the importance of the NZ China relationship. In 2013 Jo was appointed co-chair of the inaugural New Zealand Chinese Language Week.

Jo’s governance roles have also included  not for profit and  local government. In addition to running her businesses, Jo served three terms as a Wellington City Councillor, from 2007 to 2016.  For six years she led the City’s economic development strategy as Economic Portfolio Leader and Chair of the Economic Growth and Arts Committee. Jo stood for Mayor of Wellington in 2016 and a key emphasis and policy platform was around further developing key infrastructure for Wellington.

In 2016 Jo was honoured with a Life Membership of the Life Education Trust for voluntary services.  Jo Chaired the Wellington City Trust for ten years and was Deputy Chair of the National Board for six. Jo is married with six children.


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Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley
BA Well., MA Otago, MSc Brist., PhD Massey

Distinguished Professor Spoonley is one of New Zealand's leading academics and a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He is the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Massey University. 

He has written or edited 25 books and is a regular commentator in the news media. In 2010, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of California Berkeley and in 2013, a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen. 

He was awarded the Royal Society of New Zealand Science and Technology medal in 2009 in recognition of his academic scholarship, leadership and public contribution to cultural understanding  and in 2011, his contribution to Sociology was acknowledged with the Sociological Association of Aotearoa New Zealand's scholarship for exceptional service to New Zealand sociology. 

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Jeff Johnstone

Jeff Johnstone is the Education Director at the Asia New Zealand Foundation, a non-government organisation dedicated to building New Zealanders’ knowledge and understanding of Asia.

Jeff joined the Foundation in 2013 after five years as principal of Willow Park School in Auckland. While at Willow Park he developed close links with the Foundation and the Confucius Institute including establishing a Confucius Classroom, hosting Mandarin Language Assistants and organising weekly Chinese lessons for students.

Jeff worked in China for two years where he was Head of Primary at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai. Jeff has a Masters in Educational Administration from Massey University.

He is dedicated to supporting principals and teachers to equip their students to thrive in the Asian century with cultural competencies, connections and learning an Asian language.

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Dave Bromwich

Dave is the National President of the New Zealand China Friendship Society. He is also a member of the New Zealand China Council Advisory Board and Vice-chair (international) of the Beijing-based NGO International Committee for the Promotion of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (ICCIC - Gung Ho). 

Dave has been visiting China since 1991 and from 2001 his main area of activity has been as a rural development consultant. Since 2008 he has also developed and lead a number of tours to ‘backblocks’ China, often based around project rural communities. He has a moderate level of fluency in Chinese, which has been an essential factor in his ease of working and traveling in China.

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Tony Browne

Tony Browne has been Executive Chair of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre and Chair of the Victoria University of Wellington Confucius Institute since 2011 when he retired from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade after nearly 39 years as a New Zealand diplomat. He is a member of the Executive Board of the New Zealand China Council and chair of the Council’s Education Working Group. He is also a Senior Consultant to Confucius Institute Headquarters in Beijing, one of twenty-two such appointees to this role in China and internationally.

He filled senior roles in the management of New Zealand’s relations with China from 1994 to 2011. He was New Zealand Ambassador to China from 2004 to 2009 and Deputy Secretary of MFAT, with oversight of New Zealand’s relations with Asia, from 2009-2011. Prior to that he had been the Director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei from 1994 to 1997 and Director of the North Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from January 2000 to November 2004.   He was Chief of Protocol  from 1998-2000.

His time as Ambassador in Beijing covered the full period of the negotiation of the New Zealand –China Free Trade Agreement. 

He graduated from the University of Canterbury with an MA (1st class honours) in History and joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1973, later that year being posted to Hong Kong to undertake Chinese language studies. He served in Beijing from 1976-78 and in the Asia Division of the Foreign Ministry from 1978-1979.

In addition to his involvement in New Zealand’s engagement with Asia he had extensive experience in the South Pacific. He worked in the South Pacific Division of MFAT from 1981-83, and was Official Secretary of the Office for Tokelau Affairs and head of the Tokelau Public Service, based in Apia, from 1983 to 1985.  After two years, dealing extensively with Pacific issues at the United Nations in New York he became the first resident New Zealand High Commissioner in Vanuatu from 1987 to 1990.

From 1990 to 1994 he was Director of the Domestic and External Security Secretariat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, coordinating inter-agency policy on counter terrorism, disaster management, intelligence and security.

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Honorary Advisors

Dr Jian Yang MP

Dr Jian Yang is a List MP for the National Party. His entry into Parliament in 2011 followed a distinguished academic career. He was previously a Senior Lecturer of International Relations at the University of Auckland and Associate Dean (Postgraduate) of the Faculty of Arts and Director of the China Studies Centre at the New Zealand Asia Institute. 

He was also Chair of the Auckland Branch of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA) from 2002 until 2011, after serving as its deputy chair in 2001. The NZIIA is an independent, non-profit making organisation. 

Jian completed his tertiary education in China before receiving his MA and PhD in International Relations at the Australian National University (ANU). He came to the University of Auckland in March 1999. 

As a regular commentator on international and domestic affairs for local Chinese media, Jian is well known and respected amongst the Chinese community in New Zealand.

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Mayor Meng Foon

Meng Foon is the National President of the New Zealand Chinese Association and Mayor of Gisborne. Meng started off in the business of horticulture, development, property investment, export and has held the role of Mayor since 2001. He is also Chair of the Treaty of Waitangi Commemorative Fund and involved in a number of community organisations.

Meng speaks Maori, Seyip, and Cantonese and is now learning Mandarin. He holds a degree in Iwi Environmental Management, is married to his wife Ying and has three adult children. In his spare time he enjoys sports, cooking and playing mahjong. 

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Nora Yao

Nora is Director of the Confucius Institute in Auckland with nearly 30 years of experience in Chinese language teaching at the University of Auckland. She is a council member of the International Society for Chinese Language Teaching and a member of the expert panel of International Chinese Teaching Materials Development.

Nora’s work has been recognized with a ‘Distinguished Teaching Award’ from the University of Auckland and ‘Valued Contribution to the University Award’ by the Vice-Chancellor of the University twice, and an ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ by Confucius Institute Headquarters. She was awarded a ‘Good Citizen Award’ and a ‘Medal for Distinguished Women in Auckland’ from the Mayor of Auckland for her local community service. 

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Professor Neil Quigley

Professor Neil Quigley is Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Waikato. 

He formerly held the roles of Provost, Dean of Commerce and Administration, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Victoria University of Wellington, where he was also responsible for the Contemporary China Research Centre and the Confucius Institute hosted at Victoria University. 

He is a Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Neil is an International Fellow of the C D Howe Institute in Toronto and his research is in applied finance, applied microeconomics, and economic analysis of law.

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Pat English

Patrick English has been involved with China since 1989, and is currently the Executive Director for the New Zealand China Council. The New Zealand China Council was established in 2012 to support a key goal of the NZ Inc China Strategy; to retain and build a strong and resilient relationship with China.

Patrick worked for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise for more than 17 years and over this time spent more than 12 years living and working in China. Patrick is an experienced Trade Commissioner and diplomat having served in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as Malaysia. For 3 years prior to his posting to Guangzhou as Consul General and Trade Commissioner, he was part of the New Zealand China FTA negotiations team and led the market implementation programme for the New Zealand China FTA agreement. 

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Sarah Thomson (First Youth Ambassador) 

Sarah first fell in love with the Chinese people, culture and language in 2010 when she travelled to Beijing for an English teaching exchange program.

In 2011 she was awarded a scholarship to study at Beijing Culture and Language University and in 2012 she competed in the International Chinese Bridge Competition, placing first in Auckland and in the top 30 internationally. 




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Our Supporters

New Zealand Chinese Language Week is grateful to our sponsors

ICBC NZ  New Zealand China Council