Dragons rose and bananas soared at a conference celebrating the past, present and future of Chinese in New Zealand and overseas.
The fourth Going Bananas conference, entitled Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas (www.goingbananas.org.nz), was held over the weekend of Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 July and saw scholars and artists from around the country and as far afield as Russia, Hong Kong, and the US discussing the role of the Chinese throughout the globe.
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New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Inc chairman Kai Luey was sure the last conference in 2007 would be the final one but a strong demand proved otherwise.
The conference itself has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2005. From one room at AUT to three at the University of Auckland’s Business School with over 40 international speakers and, as always, a host of local stories from a New Zealand perspective.
Stories from high-flying bananas such as real estate mogul Don Ha, commercial entrepreneur Rodney Wong and former kiwi Olympian Robyn Wong inspired and amused an audience happy to witness success within the Chinese community.
The conference no doubt celebrated the Chinese, but also raised questions about the difficulties of being Chinese in New Zealand today.
Questions about whether to teach your child their native tongue in a time when China is becoming increasingly important within New Zealand and on the global stage and the growing economic importance of Chinese business were prominent throughout the weekend.
The latter question was answered in a presentation by Professor Paul Spoonley on the back of a recent Asia NZ Foundation report about Chinese businesses in Auckland.
Among the findings, the report found a lack of attention given to this area of Auckland’s economy in the Royal Commission’s report on Auckland governance.
These businesses are becoming a major source of interest as Chinese immigrant communities play an important role in business innovation, entrepreneurial activities and international trade.
Once again the conference challenged perceptions of what it means to be Chinese and, according to Professor Manying Ip, was an opportunity for the community to reflect on “where we’re positioned in society, in politics and in history”.
As for the next conference, Mr Luey was reluctant to repeat history saying another one may not be ruled out.
Scoop was a media sponsor of the Rising Dragons, Soaring Bananas International Conference. Friday, 31 July 2009, 9:59 am
Press Release: Simon Wong
By Simon Wong