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New Zealand university delegation visits Taiwan for Indigenous cultural exchange

Maori students, educators visit New Taipei elementary school to learn about Atayal cultural education program

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Fushan Elementary students practice archery with visitor from New Zealand. (New Taipei Department of Education photo)

Fushan Elementary students practice archery with visitor from New Zealand. (New Taipei Department of Education photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of students and educators from New Zealand’s University of Waikato made a visit to Taiwan in January for a cultural exchange program.

The group of 23 visitors from New Zealand, mostly comprised of Maori people, met with students from Fushan Elementary School in Wulai, New Taipei, to learn about Taiwan’s Indigenous culture and share insights about Maori culture with Taiwanese students, reported UDN.

The cultural exchange involved singing, dances, and discussions about artwork and the traditional practices of Taiwan’s Atayal people and New Zealand’s Maori.

To kick off the event, the visitors performed the famous Maori Haka, which is considered a traditional martial ritual, and in modern times, also serves as a celebration of life and a respectful greeting. In return, Fushan Elementary School students and their teachers joined hands with the visitors to perform a traditional Atayal song and dance.

New Zealand university delegation visits Taiwan for Indigenous cultural exchange
Fushan students and teachers welcome visitors from New Zealand by performing traditional Atayal songs and dances. (New Taipei Department of Education photo)

The delegation from the University of Waikato selected New Taipei’s Fushan Elementary because the school incorporates lessons on Taiwan’s Indigenous cultural practices and languages into its basic curriculum for students. The visitors hope to learn how Indigenous culture can be preserved and applied within educational programs.

The local students and visitors also practiced writing couplets for the upcoming Lunar New Year in English, Mandarin, as well as Atayal and Maori.

New Taipei’s Director of Education Chang Ming-wen (張明文) said that New Zealand’s policies on integrating Indigenous cultural heritage into national education policies have been a great inspiration for schools in Taiwan, per UDN. This is especially true for Fushan Elementary, which established its experimental curriculum to provide students with a deep understanding of Atayal culture, said Chang.

Visiting scholars from New Zealand and local Taiwanese educators said they hoped the relationship between Taiwan and New Zealand would continue to thrive and serve as a great resource for cultural exchanges between both countries and as an example for the world.

New Zealand university delegation visits Taiwan for Indigenous cultural exchange
Visitors practice writing couplets in Mandarin for the Lunar New Year. (New Taipei Department of Education photo)