Taiwan-New Zealand Higher Education Forum
In a 2010 ‘Taiwan-New Zealand Task Committee’ meeting, the Ministry of Education noted that there has seldom been exchanges between Taiwan and New Zealand in the field of education as the majority of students choose to go to Europe, North America and Japan to study abroad. In order to enhance understandings between the two education systems, Taiwan and New Zealand agreed to take turn hosting visits to build connection among universities in both countries. In May 2012, Universities New Zealand and 5 university presidents visited Taiwan and participated in the ‘First Taiwan-New Zealand University President Forum’. In October 2013, Taiwan’s Minister of Education, Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education of Taiwan (FICHET) and 7 university presidents visited New Zealand for the second edition. A MoU was signed between representatives from National Taiwan University and Victoria University. During this trip, Taiwan demonstrated strongly in areas of agriculture, hospitality and tourism and design while also promoted quality Mandarin learning environment and curriculum. During the ‘3rd Taiwan-New Zealand University President Forum’, a MoU was signed between Shih-Chien University and Massey University and the New Zealand delegation visited National Taiwan University and Brogent Technology and expressed interested in scholar and student exchange.
The 4th Forum was hosted by the University of Otago on October 5, 2017, co-hosted by FICHET and Universities New Zealand. Unlike previous gatherings, an agreement was established on areas of collaboration prior to the Forum taking place where relevant scholars are invited to participant. The fields to work together in proposed by New Zealand are earthquake resilience, indigenous and agriculture research. The co-hosts surveyed the participants from both sides to utilize the time spent together for effective communication and discussion for collaboration.
The 4th Forum invited participants from 16 poly-tech universities from New Zealand and 20 delegates from Taiwan representing 14 organizations including two indigenous professors Daya Dakasi (Tayal) from National Cheng-chi University and Jolan Hsieh (Siraya) from NDHU. Indigenous presence in this Forum included an opening mihi by Tuari Potiki, Director of Māori Development at the University of Otago, Dr. Hsieh’s presentation on current indigenous research in Taiwan, and Charles Rowe, Policy Analyst from Te Puni Kōkiri, sharing his opinion on strategies and policies that would benefit indigenous education collaboration between Taiwan and New Zealand based on Chapter 19 ‘Cooperation on Indigenous Issues’ of ANZTEC (Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu on Economic Cooperation) which he worked on.
Participants of the Forum generated a wide range of dialogues on topics such as ecology, agriculture, earthquake research and indigenous studies. The program for the Forum was short yet solid, in addition to multiple of exchange and discussion regarding higher education, what is particularly noteworthy is the experience to understand how New Zealand came to recognize how the deprivation of Māori subject position in the history of education has impacted Māori and how this insight has advanced into establishment of specific departments or Māori development center to achieve ‘reconciliation’ and ‘indigenous mainstreaming’ in education institutes. Currently, many initiatives are developing to implement Taiwan government’s New South-Bound policy, CIIA has been commissioned by the Ministry of Education to execute the ‘Taiwan-New Zealand Connection’ project to build connections in higher education between Taiwan and New Zealand with a special focus on indigenous education. Dr. Hsieh, representing NDHU at the 4th Forum said that her experience with Māori higher education based on Māori worldviews, values and culture is quite different from the common practice of ‘integrating’ Māori knowledge into mainstream university as the former offers a radically different approach to indigenous education. Representatives from New Zealand suggested, in consisted with ANZTEC, to set aside funding specifically for indigenous students and scholars in both Taiwan and New Zealand for exchange opportunities. Furthermore, several New Zealand universities have been in touch to support indigenous PhD students who are interested in studying abroad.
Some outcomes from the 4 th Forum includes an initial agreement to work towards establishing research and academic groups to providing opportunity for exchange and comparative studies to be jointly-published. Furthermore, the Forum’s emphasis on Chapter 19 of ANZTEC will contribute to strengthening collaboration in indigenous culture and economy, including implementation of measures to encourage mutually beneficial exchanges in indigenous art, politics, research, agriculture and environment issues.
Dr. Hsieh, also a member of the Indigenous Basic Law Promotion Committee under the Executive Yuan, believed that as guaranteed by Article 33 of Indigenous Basic Law which states that ‘[t]he government shall actively promote exchanges and cooperation between indigenous peoples and international indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in economical, social, political, cultural, religious, academic and ecological issues’ and Article 12 of Indigenous Language Development Act stating ‘[t]he government shall plan and promote policies for international exchange of indigenous languages’, the government should actively seek ways to increase indigenous peoples’ ability and opportunity to participate in international social affairs.
Furthermore, given current New South-Bound policy and relevant funding schemes, Council for Indigenous Peoples, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs should work together towards establishing an organization exclusively focusing on international indigenous affairs to promote Taiwan’s foreign relations. Finally, in consistent with the New South-Bound Policy, indigenous talents in New Zealand, Australia and other Austronesian countries should be promoted to expand Taiwan’s visibility in Austronesian research and economic trade to integrate ourselves into the international society.