· 22% of the world’s population are Chinese living in China or other trading places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

· Using an Australian statistic – if 97% of interpreters who work in trade negotiations between Australia and China are Chinese, does that not place Australia at a competitive disadvantage.

· With double digit GDP growth occurring for 15 consecutive years up to 2006 the growth in the middle classes (those with a disposable income) is occurring at geometric proportions. They are looking to make purchases (wine, dairy products, wood products, educational opportunities, travel etc).

· Some other facts and figures –

- China is now the world’s 3rd largest buyer of luxury products.

- China is already New Zealand’s 3rd largest trading partner.

- Beijing is NZ’s 2nd largest embassy (after Washington DC).

- China has the world’s greatest number of internet users.

- There are more url addresses registered in China than any other country.

- 112,000 Chinese tourists visit NZ every year.

- There are 20,000 Chinese students studying in NZ

· Carl Worker, the NZ Ambassador in Beijing made some apt observations –

- New Zealanders have been fortunate to have been brought up in a first world country which speaks English. English over the last 100 years became the default international language under the super power leadership of initially England and then the USA since WW2.

- The world is developing and evolving. The Chinese and Spanish speaking worlds are moving towards a first world status and are rapidly growing in importance. The former through its size and rapid growth. The latter via the USA and its Hispania neighbours and immigrants.

· The Ministry of Trade and Enterprise has a definite agenda in building trade opportunities. Trade is booming, up 60% per year for the past 2 years since NZ becoming the first OECD country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with China. In April this year it opened New Zealand Central in Shanghai. It is a base with seminar rooms, small intimate meeting rooms and lounges, office space, and entertaining areas for NZ businesses to develop trade relationships with Chinese partners. Participants in the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai are utilising the facility. Rotorua Boys High have indicated that they will use it to interview prospective international students and their families.

· The Ministry of Education encourages schools to provide second language opportunities for students. However, they make no indication of preference nor priority. They wish this to be made at the local level. The Ministry provides funding to staff second language programmes from Year 7 – prior to that it dependent upon local priorities and resourcing.

· The recent Term 3 community survey showed the following percentages felt that the languages were most important for their child’s future and the country’s future.

60% Mandarin / Chinese

34% Maori

33% Spanish

22% French

17% Japanese

4% Italian