It was great to see a good number of parents turn out on a coldish Autumnal Wellington evening for our term 2 community evening. Jeff Johnstone (of the Asia Aware Foundation) presented a compelling argument for an Asia Aware focus in our schools. Using statistics, he showed that when our current five year olds are entering the workforce, Asia will be the economic centre of the world and few adults will have jobs that do not require interactions with Asian peoples and cultures. He pointed out that people who speak Mandarin or another Asian language or have significant cultural competencies will be given jobs before those who do not.
This is the reason we, at Amesbury School, are focused on developing inter-cultural competencies (as part of our future-focused curriculum) and, knowledge of a range of Asian cultures and an Asian language - Mandarin.
However, as Jeff said quite clearly, this does not supercede or take over the celebration and honouring of New Zealand's bicultural heritage. First and foremost, inter-cultural competency in New Zealand includes acknowledgement of our bicultural heritage. We believe this involves more than just "acknowledgement". If it is "OUR" bicultural heritage then there must be a greater sense of responsibility to protect and value the cultural heritage by all New Zealanders not just Maori. Rather than seeing Te Reo Maori as having little to do with us [pakeha]; in the spirit of partnership, we would see it as our joint responsibility to value, grow and protect this wonderful heritage and language which is all of ours.
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou.