Delamere opens new visa office in Shanghai

  • John Delamare

Immigration Minister, Hon Tuariki Delamere, tonight officially opened New Zealand's new visa office in Shanghai before a 200-strong audience of Shanghai City officials, a delegation from the Dunedin City Council, New Zealand educators, and China-based New Zealand businesspeople.

The new office will initially serve the needs of the 18 million people living in or near Shanghai and is especially intended to target the hundreds of thousands of Chinese students seeking tertiary qualifications.

New Zealand university representatives in Shanghai for an education fair over the weekend say China's new relaxed travel and banking requirements represent a huge opportunity for New Zealand to sell its high-quality education services, while simultaneously building long-term relationships with the people who will be China's future leaders and opinionmakers.

The Chinese audience at tonight's opening was particularly impressed by the spirited performance of the 10-strong kapa haka group of 12 year olds from Te Kura o Hoani Waititi in west Auckland.

Said Mr Delamere, "These children have done a brilliant job in promoting New Zealand's image in the largest trade, tourism and educational market in Asia and they haven't even finished their tour yet. Already there has been extensive newspaper and television coverage of their performances, representing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising New Zealand otherwise simply couldn't afford to buy.

"To my mind, this clearly demonstrates the criticism by certain politicians of the subsidising of the group's trip was petty, mean-minded and extremely short-sighted.

"The New Zealand taxpayers' investment in the kapa haka group has already been repaid many times over."

The group will perform with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, which is being conducted by New Zealander Gary Deverne, on Saturday night.

Mr Delamere will continue his schedule of meetings with Shanghai trade and political leaders before flying to Beijing on Sunday for more talks with senior Chinese Government Ministers.