Thursday, March 13, 2014

NZ astronomer to help pick Chinese planetarium

NZ astronomer to help pick Chinese planetarium WILMA MCCORKINDALE Last updated 18:05 13/03/2014 A Dunedin astronomer will contribute to the development of a planetarium for a science institution in China. Dr Ian Griffin, who recently took up the post of director of the Otago Museum, has been invited to sit on the panel to select the winning tender for the planetarium, which is being developed by the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (SSTM). The tender process would lead to a decision on the design plan, with further discussion on exhibition layout and interactive displays for the new planetarium, Griffin said. Griffin, a former chief executive of the Auckland Observatory and Planetarium Trust, headed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Office of Public Outreach and was director of its Origins Education Forum based at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. While at Nasa, Griffin worked on the Hubble telescope programme. Griffin said the Shanghai project was an ambitious one. "At its most basic, a planetarium is a domed room where visitors can discover the night sky," he said. "In the past few decades, planetarium design has experienced a period of renaissance and innovation. "Boasting state of the art technology, modern planetaria use extraordinarily high-resolution video to broaden the minds of visitors to the possibilities of astronomy and other areas of science." It would be constructed in Lingang New City, about 90 minutes from downtown Shanghai. Thirteen companies had tendered to build the structure, seven of which were based in China, Griffin said. "I am honoured to have been chosen to assist our colleagues at the SSTM with such an important decision, strengthening our already close ties with this excellent organisation," he said. "I have long been a believer in the inherent power of planetaria to inspire a passion for the universe around us and for lifelong learning in visitors of all ages." Griffin said the Shanghai experience could help in the possible development of a planetarium at the Otago Museum. "It should provide invaluable information with possible application at the Otago Museum," he said. Griffin will visit Shanghai from March 29 to April 7. - © Fairfax NZ News

Key: 'Nothing untoward' in citizenship waiver

Key: 'Nothing untoward' in citizenship waiver STACEY KIRK Last updated 14:51 13/03/2014 Collins knocks 'hurtful' rumours Genesis Energy offer priced low One more strike for Collins No more embarrassments, vows Collins Greens back biking to school 'Political' state servant under fire Ministry reviews new school sites New safety rules hit school funds Judith Collins comes clean about dinner Power bill transparency promised Former Labour associate immigration minister Damien O'Connor approved residency for wealthy Chinese businessman Donghua Liu against officials' advice. Liu is at the centre of fresh questions about National's links to rich donors after he was granted citizenship, against official advice, with the help of government ministers lobbying his case. A year later, the Auckland-based property developer donated $22,000 to the National Party through one of his companies. O'Connor said he had been alerted to the fact that he had given Liu residency. "I have no recollection of it – quite likely though." He said there were about 4500 cases a year and many were overriden. "Most of the advice is that they shouldn't go through, otherwise they would have been approved, so it's pretty much standard advice from immigration to say this shouldn't go ahead." That was why people sought ministerial discretion, he said. He made decisions for the right reasons – humanitarianism or good business outcomes. The same reasons may have been applied to Liu's citizenship. The question was around the timing of a payment to the National Party. O'Connor was not aware of any payment from Liu to the Labour Party and was not sure when he approved the residency applicaiton, but 2005 sounded "about right". After Liu gained citizenship, Prime Minister John Key and Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson attended the official opening of the first stage of Liu's $70 million construction project. Official party donation returns show a significant donation by Roncon Pacific Hotel Management Holdings Ltd on October 24, 2012. Company Office records show Liu to be a director of the company, along with lawyer Jeremy Goodwin, who supported Liu's bid for citizenship. It is not the first case of citizenship to be granted in return for investment in New Zealand, but it reportedly sparked Department of Internal Affairs concerns that it showed favouritism. The New Zealand Herald reported that Liu's citizenship was not supported because he had not spent enough time in New Zealand and did not have the appropriate English-language skills. One of Liu's business partners approached Williamson and John Banks, who was Auckland's mayor at the time. They wrote to then internal affairs minister Nathan Guy asking him to grant citizenship against the official advice. Guy said today that he had never met Liu and was unaware of any political donations made by him. "As minister, I decided over 800 cases and it was quite common to receive correspondence from family and supporters of applicants," he said. "In every citizenship case, I always carefully considered all of the evidence provided and advice from the Department of Internal Affairs. "In this case, I considered at the time that on balance the potential benefits to New Zealand warranted the granting of citizenship. "I've never met this individual and was unaware of any donation to any political party until today. "The individual in this case was granted permanent residency in 2005." Key said donations were recorded openly, and the media "could see shadows" if they wanted to, but there was nothing there. "We live in a democracy and people are free to give donations to political parties that they want to support," he said. "There's nothing in this particular case. This person actually received residency under a Labour government and citizenship under a National government. "I'm not responsible for donations for the National Party. I don't engage myself in that. "But the party, rightfully so, appropriately recorded that and made sure that was public. There was nothing the party was trying to hide." Key said the donation was made a long time after Liu became a citizen. "I just don't accept the proposition there's anything untoward there." Key said a minister advocating a person for citizenship was "not at all unusual". Liu was a substantial investor in New Zealand and "lots of people get ministerial waivers". "The Government, very recently, gave a whole bunch of ministerial waivers to interpreters who came from Afghanistan," he said. Key said there was no need for a law change to the rules allowing ministers to exercise discretion in citizenship cases. "There are hundreds of examples between this government and the previous government and the ones before it where there's been an override. In fact, it's a very logical thing," he said. "We have to set rules in a pretty strict place, but actually, if people come to New Zealand and want to become either a resident or citizen, they sometimes don't always perfectly fit the rules. "We have language tests at a certain level and the amount of time people spend here is also a test, but actually, there are lots of people who are granted exceptions in that area." A report from the auditor-general last year said that while it was not necessarily improper for a minister to lobby on behalf of an aspiring citizen, it did pose risks to the integrity of the system. The report was looking into a similar case where Labour MP Shane Jones, when he was associate immigration minister, granted citizenship to William Liu, a Chinese national who was under the scrutiny of Interpol, despite an active police investigation being under way and the Department of Internal Affairs telling him not to. The auditor-general found there was "nothing unlawful or improper in ministers considering representations and advocacy by or on behalf of applicants in the course of considering an application for citizenship". "However, advocacy of this kind, in particular where the advocate is a fellow MP or known to the minister, clearly presents risks to the integrity of the decision-making system and to the reputations of those involved, including the minister," he said. - © Fairfax NZ News

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Confucius Institute students work

Lantern Festival Albert Park CNY 2014

NZCA Auckland CNY 2014

Tung Jung Association Wellington

SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING (SGM) A Special General Meeting is being called on Sunday 4 May 2014 at 33 Torrens Terrace, Mt. Cook, begin- ning at 2 pm. Business to be discussed is whether the Tung Jung Association should sell the present premises and buy a smaller building or retain the present one. If you are concerned about the future of the Associa- tion, please attend this SGM to voice your concerns. If you cannot attend but would like to voice your concerns, please use a proxy or write to the Secre- tary, Tung Jung Association, P.O. Box 9058, Welling- ton, before 1st May 2014

Zengcheng City 增城市

Zengcheng City 增城市 As from 12 February 2014, the Chinese Government upgraded Zengcheng City, previously a county level city, to be- come a district under the jurisdiction of Guangzhou. Does this mean that this is another step toward the proposed su- per city of Guangzhou? All mail should be addressed as Zengcheng District, Guangzhou, China. 增城区 , 廣州市 , 中國

Proposed trip to North Queensland

Proposed trip to North Queensland At the time of publication of this newsletter, we are still waiting for the itinerary and arrangements from the travel agent for the proposed trip to be confirmed. Briefly, it is proposed to travel to Cairns, where we will meet the Cairns and Districts Chinese Association who will host us and show us around and have lunch or dinner with them. This will be a good opportunity to meet other over- seas Chinese groups and see what they do. Over a 7 day period, it is proposed to visit Atherton, Chinatown, Cookstown, sugar cane fields and pineapple planta- tions as well as seeing local sites of interest as there was a strong Chinese influence in the area which once had gold- fields The proposed trip will be in the vicinity of $2500 to $3000 and will take place after Easter in late April. If you are interested in this trip, please register your interest to Gordon Wu by email: or tele- phone 027 4875314 and we will keep you posted

Diverse Bananas, Global Dragons" International Conference

Diverse Bananas, Global Dragons" International Conference at Auckland University Business School on 30 May-1 June 2014 By popular demand after a five year hiatus, our iconic and unique conference returns to challenge perceptions of what it means to be Chinese and celebrate the journeys, stories and identities of leading local and overseas born Chinese personalities. This conference is the fifth in the Going Bananas cycle. We offer everyone a fresh way to explore and understand the impact Chinese communities make in N ew Zealand and on the global stage. A flyer is attached for your information. Please register asap for the conference to take advantage of the early bird discount by completing page 12 of this link or registering online. If you have any queries or need additional information, please contact David Wong on or the undersigned. Thanks & Best Regards Kai Luey Co-Chairman Conference Organising Committee Phone 522 1840 Mobile 021 333 125