Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPEs) established to strengthen New Zealanders’ understanding and ability to engage with the diverse countries of the Asia-Pacific region, were formally launched at event at Parliament tonight.

The launch of the North Asia CAPE, Southeast Asia CAPE, and Latin America CAPE comes as the CAPEs intensify their programmes of activities with students, businesses and communities.

CAPE Management Committee Chair Professor Jenny Dixon says the launch by Education Minister Hon Chris Hipkins was a milestone for the three CAPEs which are supported by a consortium of four of the country’s leading universities; Auckland, Otago, Waikato, and Victoria University of Wellington.

“CAPEs are practical and aim to meet the unmet needs of schools, tertiary students and the business community to upskill. What’s unique is that by being university-based, the CAPEs can draw on the insights of researchers to inform what they do,” Professor Dixon said. 

The CAPEs run business seminars and provide access to experts.  In August the North Asia CAPE will host a Secondary Schools’ Leadership Conference for students studying Chinese, Korean and Japanese for a one day language and culture conference at the University of Auckland.

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Over the summer break all three CAPEs supported students to travel to the Asia-Pacific region:

  • 24 university students from across New Zealand participated in the Understanding Southeast Asia Study Tour.  The students visited Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to understand business environments and opportunities in Southeast Asia. 
  • In its first student mobility initiative the Latin America CAPE partnered with Young Enterprise to send eight outstanding high school students to São Paulo.
  • Six recipients of the first North Asia CAPE Māori Business Scholarships travelled to Taipei City for three weeks to study at the National Taiwan University where they focused on learning Mandarin, establishing business networks, and exploring the many cultural, historical, and linguistic linkages between Māori and the indigenous people of the island of Taiwan.

Professor Dixon said New Zealand is acutely aware of an urgent need for cultural awareness and language skills to support the country’s economic, social and cultural engagement in the diverse countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

Each CAPE is led by a Director; the Southeast Asia CAPE Director is Professor Siah Hwee Ang; the Latin America CAPE Director is Dr Matthew O’Meagher; the North Asia Establishment Director is Anne French, from 1 July Professor Paul Clark will be the Director.

Watch the CAPEs launch video here

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