NZ counsellor sets sights on close ties

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2007, 12:00am

New Zealand Education Counsellor Hamish Forsyth, who works from the embassy in Beijing, said he was keen to build a partnership with China to make use of the best of both worlds.

On a trip to Hong Kong this week, Mr Forsyth said both countries had much to gain from collaboration, from trade links to technological expertise which he hoped to foster through cultural and educational exchange.

He gave co-operation with universities in Xinjiang as an example.

'The sheep industry is very important up in Xinjiang and New Zealand has always had a particular strength in Agritech. Our work there is not simply about sheep but we are looking at ways to do something clever with their wool, for high value niche products like fine high fashion fabrics and textiles,' he said.

But he emphasised there was more to New Zealand than sheep.

'We have a pristine environment, beautiful landscapes, a whole range of activities, but we also offer top-class education with an approach that encourages creative thinking that was ranked fifth in the world for problem solving in the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] survey,' he said.

Mr Forsyth said he had experienced an education of his own since his posting to Beijing.

'I am still getting used to the sheer range of ingredients that make up the local cuisine,' he said.