Taiwan experience strengthens cultural links
Having studied Mandarin for five years, HATCH participant Angel Stowers of Kokiti Ltd, winner of the 2018 Panuku Development Pacific Impact Award at the 2018 National Pacific Business Trust Awards, says the opportunity to go to Taiwan as a Kiva business scholar was one she had to go on. The exchange gave her an insight into Taiwanese culture and business and an appreciation for the opportunities she is afforded in Aotearoa.
The North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (CAPE) programme expanded to include Kiva Business Scholars at the start of 2019. Angel spent four weeks learning Mandarin at the National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei City along with 11 Māori and Pacific tertiary students and recent graduates – four of whom were fellow HATCH participants.
“The opportunity came up and I knew I had to go,” says the young business owner who is now in her 2nd year at AUT studying Business and Chinese.
As the only scholar from HATCH with some knowledge of speaking Mandarin, Angel was placed in a separate group, being classed as an intermediate learner of the language.
Despite this, being on the exchange with her fellow HATCH participants for the majority of the trip was a comfortable experience. It helped that the Pacific Business Trust and HATCH Team acted as extra support which she could access when she required it.
“The trip wouldn’t have happened without HATCH, who remained available for support during the trip,” she says.
“Being part of the cohort that went over together meant I was never alone. I was with a group I knew and was comfortable with.”
For Angel, the experience was an eye opener about herself, her mindset and how she conducts herself in business.
“In terms of relationships and networks, we’re not just bound to New Zealand … we can expand.”
NZ’s close contact with Taiwan meant there were events that Kokiti Ltd as a business could attend and learn more from Taiwanese businesses similar to her own, which included similar values.
Specialising in offering Pasifika Art and Wellbeing workshops to children aged between five and 14 years old, Kokiti provides skills and knowledge from various Pasifika cultures.
Its purpose is to ensure Pasifika knowledge and values are passed on to the next generation to empower them, much like one particular business Angel came across.
“The Rabbit Kids Gymnastics centre in Taiwan was founded with the core purpose of helping children and their development,” says Angel.
“This business in particular was a favourite of mine as they essentially have the same focus as Kokiti does.”
Meeting the indigenous people, and seeing how they conducted businesses made Angel even more appreciative of the support given to her and her business partner by the Pacific Business Trust.