Friday, February 29, 2008

NZ - Chinese Business Roundtable offices

Friday, 29 February 2008, 4:23 pm
Speech: New Zealand Government

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade

29 February 2008

Speech Notes

Speech opening New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable offices

Mr Ma Chongreng, Consul General for China in Auckland
Mr Liu Linlin, Economic and Commercial Counsellor
Pansy Wong, MP
Joan Caulfield representing P.M. Helen Clark
Mike Lee, Chair, Auckland Regional Council
Jack Chen, Founder, Chinese Business Roundtable
Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Nimen Hou

Thank you for the invitation to participate today in the launch of the New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable Council and in the opening of your new premises.

Can I thank you also for your invitation to me as Minister of Trade to be patron of the Council, I am enthusiastic about all business organisations which are working to promote New Zealand’s trade interests abroad.

Your organisation also has the worthy objective of bringing together New Zealand Chinese business people to build relationships, share experiences and to communicate your views and needs to local and central government.

It is a propitious time to establish an organisation focussed on trade between New Zealand and China.

Last December China became New Zealand’s third largest trading partner, with over $7 billion a year in two way trade.

China is the world’s fastest growing economy and New Zealand’s fastest growing export market. It has over 100 million affluent consumers and more than 300 million consumers with growing disposable incomes.

This year will mark a milestone in our trading relationship when we achieve our fourth first. We were the first country to negotiate an agreement with China for its entry into the WTO, the first to recognise it as a market economy, the first OECD or developed country to start negotiations with it for a free trade agreement and in early April we will be the first developed country to conclude and sign a free trade agreement with China.

On the 6-9 April, the Prime Minister and I will lead a business delegation to Beijing where the signing ceremony will take place in the Great Hall of People.

I don’t claim that agreement will be perfect or achieve all our trade ambitions but it will meet the tests set by Prime Minister Clark and Premier Wen of being comprehensive, high quality and of mutual benefit to the two countries.

Our export trade is estimated as a result of the agreement to grow by an extra $260 to $400 million a year each year for 20 years.

When tariff cuts are fully implemented, it will save New Zealand exporters over $100 million a year.

It gives us higher profile and an advantage over our trading competitors in the Chinese market. It provides more certainty for our goods and services exporters and for our investors there.

Without this agreement, New Zealand exporters would have suffered increasing competitive disadvantages compared to other countries entering into free trade agreements with China.

The free trade agreement will open doors for our traders into China and create opportunities but it will be up to New Zealand business to seize and benefit from those opportunities.

That means that our exporters will need to understand the markets in China, what its needs are and how to work effectively within it – understanding the laws, the culture, the language, the importance of guanxi / relationships.

This is where the New Zealand Chinese business community can help give New Zealand a head start.

You know where New Zealand’s competitive advantages are, how we can best succeed in marketing what we produce in the Chinese market. You know New Zealand, you know China.

I look forward to the constructive and positive role which the New Zealand Chinese Business Roundtable Council can and will play in this area.

Best wishes for the growth and strengthening of your Council.

It is my privilege to launch your organisation and declare this building officially open.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Asians winning acceptance

5:00AM Saturday February 16, 2008
By Simon Collins

Polls by the Human Rights Commission found that the proportion of New Zealanders who see "some" or "a great deal" of discrimination against Asians has dropped from a peak of almost 80 per cent in 2003-04 to just 68 per cent at the end of last year.

But this was still the highest discrimination rate perceived against any group, followed by the overweight, welfare beneficiaries and recent immigrants (all 62 per cent), refugees (56 per cent) and gays and lesbians (54 per cent).

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres, who will present details to the Federation of Ethnic Councils in Christchurch today, said the downward trend suggested that Asians were slowly becoming accepted in New Zealand, as Pacific Islanders and other immigrants had been before them.

"Eighteen years of Asian migration in Auckland is starting to become a fact of life," he said.

The poll of 750 people by UMR Research found that 71 per cent of Asians themselves still feel that New Zealanders discriminate against them - 26 per cent "some" and 45 per cent "a great deal".

Pacific Islanders feel more accepted. Only 4 per cent feel they are discriminated against "a great deal" and 58 per cent feel "some" discrimination.

But Maori feel even more heavily discriminated against than Asians - 24 per cent "a great deal" and 49 per cent "some".

Asked if they personally have been discriminated against, 31 per cent of Maori but only 20 per cent of non-Maori said "yes".

The number of complaints to the Human Rights Commission over "racial disharmony" jumped from 27 in 2006 to 66 last year.

More than half (35) related to a comment by Whakatane District councillor Russell Orr that "lazy, greedy, lawless and ungrateful cheats that infest the outer regions of our district [should] be made to comply with the same rules you and I abide by".

Mr de Bres said the commission decided not to prosecute Mr Orr because the comment, though "offensive", did not meet the legal test of "inciting" racial disharmony.

Mr Orr last night stood by his comments. "There are lazy, lawless, ungrateful cheats out there and I'm not going to apologise to them."

More by Simon Collins

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Friday, February 08, 2008

Lincoln Tan: Don't touch a broom today

:30AM Thursday February 07, 2008
By Lincoln Tan

Okay, so you ushered in 2008 and got drunk in the process.

Well here's another excuse to celebrate yet another New Year today. Chinese New Year.

Today marks the first day of chun jie, spring festival, which is celebrated by people of Chinese ethnicity the world over.

This is the real new year, at least for me and those who follow the lunar calendar, and one which has more drama, more tradition and, most importantly, causes far less trouble than the other one.

Even the name - the Year of the Rat - has a cool ring to it, sounding like a title of a Hollywood mafia-kung fu movie flick unlike the other one, which is identified only by digits.

According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, today marks the entry of the Earth Rat and for the feng shui believers, the elements of earth and water will be dominant this year.

Earth represents stability, so expect things to be rather smooth sailing for the first half of the year - but appearance of water in the second half, hinting at turbulence means we can expect some upheavals.

But those born in the year of the Ox, Dragon or Monkey (me!) are supposed to be in harmony with the Rat, and would possibly escape the turbulence. Phew!

Thanks to the internet and the many feng shui websites, writers on these topics no longer need to be wise to sound wise, but being Chinese does help make this pseudo-forecast sound that much more authentic.

It's great celebrating the festival in New Zealand, unlike back where I came from, where bookings for Chinese New Year dinner must be made months ahead.

You can rest assured you'll be lucky enough to find empty tables at most restaurants here.

Luck is everything during Chinese New Year. Do things right today, and your year will be filled with fortune, prosperity and money. Inauspicious? Well, you can't be - that's bad luck.

Some of the other rules: no using the broom, because that would mean sweeping your luck away, no swearing and most definitely no violence, otherwise you'll get everything back a hundredfold over the year.

I do wonder if some of these were put in place by the Chinese because they could foresee New Year parties running wild, and thought the threat of bad luck was more effective in holding the peace than the police.

But if you want to play it safe with luck, then you must wear red today.

If red is not your thing, then do what wise Chinese would do today - wear red underwear.

It is a widespread belief that red panties bring good luck to the wearer during Chinese New Year, so go for it. And if you're game on wearing it Superman-style - red underwear on the outside - then you've probably increased your chances of winning Lotto by leaps and bounds.

The Rat is the first sign of the 12-animal Chinese zodiac calendar, so this is supposed to be a year of beginnings.

If you have never celebrated Chinese New Year, then make this a new beginning and celebrate your first.

Cheers (with Chinese tea of course), and Gongxi Facai!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Drink in the collection (+ photos)

Drink in the collection

Drink in the collection (+ photos)
5:00AM Friday February 01, 2008
By Cathrin Schaer

Russell Green. Photo / Babiche Martens.

View Photos
When Russell Green, owner of the richly decorated Auckland bar Shanghai Lil's, was 7, he got into a lot of trouble over some spare cash he'd been given.

"I spent the 20 cents that I was given on an old gramophone," confesses Green. "And really," he chuckles, "that was where it all began."

By "it", Green, who worked as a chef for 30 years before turning to bar ownership, means collecting.

Over the following years his passion for the unusual, the vintage and collectible has grown.

Not everything he had could be fitted into his living quarters and a lot of Green's purchases were in storage.

"So we decided it was time to put them to some use."

Green decorated Shanghai Lil's using Green's various objets d'art, furniture and other fittings.

Today the bar, near Victoria Park market and next to the Birdcage Tavern, is patronised by the rich and famous, the bohemian and art students alike.

"I like the idea that it's a place where people of different generations, backgrounds and ideas meet and then feel like they've gone away, having had a different sort of experience."

1. Chandeliers: They have made a comeback and deserve to. Mine sits on top of a Chinese cabinet in Lil's.

2. Our car, an MGTF 1500, 1954: It's designed like a real sports car should be and it's been in the family since it was brand new.

3. The Birdcage Tavern: Formerly the Rob Roy, it now houses Shanghai Lil's. It is admired worldwide and is one of the few hotels built in the mid-1880s still standing in Auckland. Before this land was reclaimed, the water actually used to come right up the door and the pub was named for a ship called the Rob Roy that sank in the harbour.

4. Auckland Museum: Architect Noel Lane has shown that older buildings can be adapted for today. We should keep an eye on the Art Gallery and the St James Theatre because I think old buildings can retain their organic flavour without losing their integrity. Buildings can be adapted as long as it's done with sensitivity.

5. 42 Below: Besides being a great vodka, the design of the packaging is superb. When I was in Shanghai recently most of the cocktails in the Glamour Bar - it's on a rooftop on the historic Bund - were made using it.

6. Our own lounge at home: It's taught me that with design, buy what you love. Every piece is as important as any other.

7. Air New Zealand Fashion Week: It has shown us there is great individual fashion design that's unique to New Zealand and up to world standards. A lot of my decorating ideas come from visiting women's fashion shops, actually - from the interiors of the shops to the fabrics used. My favourites are Yvonne Bennetti, Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker and Lucy Boshier. All have that wow factor.

8. Erte, born 1892: He was Romain de Tirtoff, a White Russian who, as a graphic artist, designed for Harper's Bazaar in the 1920s and designed dresses for Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. I'm a great admirer and I own five of his graphics that came to New Zealand with Michael Barrymore.

9. The Sad Pianist: A fascinating book written and designed by Diana Wong. It's a photographic retrospect of local Aucklanders, many of whom went on to greatness. The artwork is by a local artist, John Holmwood. The book was also adapted into a home movie which used cast members from the book.

10. Antique Navajo, silver and turquoise jewellery: I recently inherited a collection of antique jewellery. The artisan has designed the pieces to represent snakes and other things with mystic and spiritual meaning.

Chow, Viaduct Harbour

5:00AM Friday February 01, 2008
By Ewan McDonald

Photo / Babiche Martens.
Herald rating: * * *

Address: 1 Pakenham St, Viaduct Harbour
Phone: (09) 365 2585
Open: 7 days, noon- midnight
Cuisine: Asian plates
From the menu: Roast duck, egg noodles, shitake, bok choy in star anise and soy broth $16; Banana leaf fish with red curry, kaffir lime, honey, coriander, turmeric, coconut dipping sauce $14; Lime posset, mint and mango salsa, coconut sesame wafers $9
Vegetarian: Some dishes
Wine: ... and cocktails and beer

Chai-pas is the word. For which the world has to thank Jimmy Chung, whose chic Shanghai Lily in Toronto's Chinatown tore apart the food map of Asia in the early 2000s. Chefs blended Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese ingredients with Western accents, turned out in contemporary presentations, to create dishes to be passed around the table, shared across cocktails.

Chai-pas as in "Chinese tapas". Some might call it fusion but Chung rejected the label: "It sounds like bok choy and spaghetti." Sauteed chilli-spiked Chinese long beans with black Greek olives. Wok-fried calamari with passionfruit infusion. Chinese ravioli stuffed with sweet-potato mash and mint with a mango aioli. Battered Japanese eggplant with a minty ginger dip.

These thoughts are inspired by Chow, freshly arrived from Wellington, where it has three berths in and around the Harbour Capital. The Auckland vessel moors a couple of blocks from the water, near the Tepid Baths and another visitor from Evans Bay, Monsoon Poon.

Both share a culinary horizon: salads, rolls, noodles, skewers in a fun place to gather a crew over nibbles and cocktails, or beers and bites.

Moonson Poon casts its ladle wider, incorporating Indian flavours, and feels like your friendly neighbourhood pub. If your friendly neighbourhood is Mumbai or Newtown.

Chinese-oriented Chow is more studied in style and substances. The style is 70s light-fittings and bare-concrete breeze-blocks, dividing the one-time chandlery, later Scandinavian furniture store, into an essay in retro.

The substance "combines the flavours of Asia in a fresh new way". It has one of those so-cute menus divvied up into Bowls, Salads and Long Plates. "Have you eaten at Chow before?" asked the well-schooled waiter.

He would go on to ask everyone that, and pretty much everyone had the same answer, "No." Not surprising, because the place had opened that week, and - much as it may surprise folk at the other end of the island - not every Aucklander goes to Wellington to eat.

So we were informed that: a, the food is meant to be shared and b, a couple of Long Plates with sides is a meal. More is a feast". Jude, Sian, Guy and I did the math and figured we'd start with three or four Long Plates and a similar quantity of Hoegardens and see where we went from there.

Rice-paper rolls were a promising start, vermicelli and veggies getting a kick from coriander and a lemon chilli dipping sauce. Promising, not rip your T-shirt off. Same for prawn and pork cakes, wham generated by red curry, coriander and Vietnam-ish nam yam dipping sauce. Fresh flavours next time around: mango chicken salad, the usual cashews and (there's a theme here) kaffir lime, coriander and a coconut chilli dressing.

Time to stretch for the touted "fresh new way" with Asian flavours. Blue cheese and peanut wontons? Hmmm. With berry coulis? "Why would anyone do that?" asked Guy, a reasonable question, which might also be applied to pumpkin and cashew fritters with saffron, sea salt and ... coriander and sweet chilli dipping sauce. Sian was rather taken by her soup, or should we say Bowl, of spiced beef with rice noodles, bok choy and crispy shallots, though someone might have left out the coriander and chili dipping sauce.

We'd knocked over seven or nine Long Plates and none of us felt, as the French say, complet. Another round might do the trick. Two plates were forgettable: mussel fritters with carrot, sticky rice ... yep, coriander and sweet chilli mayo were not. They were tasteless.

Bill for four, with beers, $200.

Concentrating on all-style and not enough sustenance, dumbing-down superb cuisines into Asia-lite: if Chow and Monsoon Poon are anything to go by, these must be Wellington things.

The problem is the gap between us on the map, and the easy way to reconcile it is eat in a decent restaurant, not a cocktail party with finger food that everyone else is invited to. There's more to a good restaurant than a recycled idea and a hip website.

Oh, one last thing before I go. Shanghai Lily's fusion-tapas experiment lasted less than a year in Toronto. It's now a sushi bar.