Mandarin Language Assistants welcomed

  • Hekia Parata

Education Minister Hekia Parata today welcomed 38 Mandarin Language Assistants from China to New Zealand at Parliament.

The graduates from universities in China will spend the year assisting teachers of Mandarin in 80 New Zealand schools. They are in Wellington for an orientation week run by Victoria University’s Confucius Institute.

“Since 2010, Mandarin Language Assistants have helped to inspire students by providing invaluable social and cultural insights essential for a full understanding of the language,” says Ms Parata.

By their presence the assistants provide opportunities for students to hear and converse with native speakers. They will also help with the preparation of learning resources.

The group’s members will assist schools in Wellington, the Hutt Valley, the Wairarapa, Palmerston North, Whanganui, Rotorua, Tokoroa, Reporoa, Tauranga, Opotiki, Whakatane and Napier.

In total, about 100 Mandarin Language Assistants will work in New Zealand schools this year as part of a programme run by the country’s three Confucius Institutes with support from the Ministry of Education.

“This is a rich resource given that China is our number one export destination and it is important that we prepare our young people to play a part in New Zealand’s economic future,” says Ms Parata.

The teaching assistance programme has its origins in the New Zealand – China Free Trade Agreement which provides for up to 150 Mandarin Language Assistants to temporarily work in New Zealand.