Mr. Eddie Walker, Liaison for the ‘Taiwan – Aotearoa, New Zealand Connection Project’, visited Taiwan recently. Mr. Walker who has tribal affiliations with Ngati Kahu, Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi, is a Digital Platform Architect at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa – one of the largest adult education institutions in New Zealand. He has been involved with many international indigenous groups such as North American Indigenous Peoples, Ainu of Japan, Peoples of Peru and Bolivia. He has kindly offered to help build similar reciprocal relationships with the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. This summer, Mr. Walker has been learning more about Taiwan’s indigenous higher education so that he could provide better context for his people back in Aotearoa, New Zealand. The Center for International Indigenous Affairs (CIIA) at the College of Indigenous Studies (CIS) had arranged for Mr. Walker to visit some project partner institutions, such as Hualien County Tribal College and National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, also with special cultural experience tours to several indigenous communities including Langasan Theatre (冉而山劇場) and the beautiful peoples of Lanyu / Orchid Island.
In sharing his own culture through language, song and dance, Mr. Walker realised how similar his culture was with the indigenous communities and cultures of Taiwan. “According to legend, Māori landed on the shores of Aotearoa from their mystical homeland of Hawaiki. My experience on this trip adds to growing belief in Aotearoa that Taiwan could have been Hawaiki,” said Mr. Walker. The Taiwan Connection project team along with Mr. Walker also visited Lauyu / Orchid Island learning more about ocean knowledge, traditional arts and crafts, nuclear waste issues, natural resources, and indigenous education. Mr. Walker met with a group of recent graduates from Taidong who were now teaching at the Lanyu Senior High School (Tao National Experimental High School). They visited New Zealand last year. The CIIA team organized an informal gathering for cultural sharing and ideas exchange with the teachers and discussed possibilities of a potential collaboration.
“Taiwan Connection” is the CIIA signature project which collaborates with the Ministry of Education’s New Southbound Policy. The project aims actively and pragmatically create reciprocal links to communities in Aotearoa and establish a solid relationship between Taiwan and New Zealand’s higher education, especially toward indigenous education. CIIA Director Dr. Jolan Hsieh (Bavaragh Dagalomai, 謝若蘭) and her team are planning to further extend the connection project to Australia and several other Pacific Island countries. “We will cultivate our national talents in the Austronesian family with the vision of, “The more local we are, and the more international it becomes.”, said Dr. Hsieh.
One of those important relationships is with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa – the organization Mr Walker works for. Recently, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa announced Te Ururoa Flavell as their new CEO. Mr. Flavell has a strong Māori language and educational background, served as the co-leader of the Māori Party and was a member of the New Zealand Parliament. CIS Dean, Dr. Pasuya Poiconx (浦忠成) will attend Mr. Flavell’s inauguration to congratulate and celebrate this new historical milestone with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. “We want to show our most hearty support as a partner institution for the deepening of the Taiwan-New Zealand higher education connection.” Dean Pasuya said. The acting CEO Mr. Nepia Winiata, who visited Taiwan last year, is welcoming NDHU delegation to attend the new executive officer’s inauguration ceremony on 20 August 2018.
News source：National Dong Hwa University