Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Jim He

Honour spurs promoter on DANIELLE STREET Last updated 05:00 05/06/2013 Jim He has worn many hats during his working life - from agricultural chemist to international trade facilitator. But it is his work promoting Kiwi films and China, and vice versa, that saw the Epsom resident made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit during Queen's Birthday weekend. Mr He moved to New Zealand from Beijing in 1989 to complete a masters degree in chemistry. From there he went on to earn a crust working for a company developing chemicals for the farming industry for about 16 years. "I resigned in 2008, I felt I needed to do something I love to do. I really love culture and arts, but film is my favourite. That's why I started bringing in films from China to show here." After two successful Chinese Film Festivals in New Zealand, Mr He became a driving force in organising Kiwi films to be exhibited in China. The first New Zealand Film Festival was held in China in 2002, and the countries now hold film festivals on alternating years. Mr He also helped push through a film production treaty between the two countries that enabled Kiwi films to gain a foothold in the lucrative Chinese market, which last year was worth around $3.2 billion. "China only imports 50 films per year from overseas and 90 per cent of those films are American," Mr He explains. "So New Zealand films would never get into the market otherwise." With the increasing population of Chinese people in New Zealand, movies are also a helpful tool to understanding the different cultures, Mr He says. "Film is the perfect window. In two hours' time it can show a country's culture, economy, lifestyles, everything. It can open people's eyes." Alongside his work promoting films, his appointment to the Order of Merit recognises Mr He's ongoing work in the Chinese community. He is the secretary general of the United Chinese Association, which has more than 30,000 members in Auckland. He runs cultural events for the association, helps settle new immigrants and keeps people informed of policy changes from local and central government. Mr He was nominated for the award by his long-time colleague Kai Luey. "I was so pleased that he recognised my efforts and my achievements. It has given me much of the inspiration to carry on doing what I am now." - © Fairfax NZ News

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