Parnell District School in Auckland has been teaching Mandarin for more than 12 years and was one of the first Confucius Classrooms to open in New Zealand.

Read Parnell District School’s Mandarin Blog for their latest news.

Sister School trip forms friendships

Parnell District School visited Cixi Elementary School from 11 - 16 October, 2015. They have been sister schools since 2014 and the annual group visits back and forward, give students and teachers an opportunity to have the ultimate cultural experience!

While teachers from both schools discussed and shared their opinions on education, helping them to understand each others different methods, the students were involved in school activites and making friends with their Chinese student counterparts.

They attended a flag-raising ceremony and morning exercise, took lessons with local students - learning traditional Chinese instruments, taking PE classes and pottery. Outside the school, the group had a chance to visit some historic towns and see the sights of Ningbo. The Farewell Ceremony, included performances - both Kiwi and Chinese.

Click here to view photos of their wonderful cultural experience. What incredible memories they will have!

Parnell District School assists a Dragon

At Parnell District School they have woven traditional Chinese art and craft activites to support a Mandarin language programme

Students from Parnell District School have come together in a combined effort to help Long the Dragon, who had neglectfully knocked over the Moonlight Chest with nine crystal balls. The crystal balls have fallen from the Heavenly Court to the human world. The Jade Emperor demanded that Long recover the missing crystal balls by completing the nine challenges set by the arts and crafts masters.

These tasks were so difficult and so huge that Long could not manage these all by himself. His friend Tuku, Parnell District School’s beloved mascot, recommended the children of Parnell District School help Long. At a whole school assembly the situation was explained to the students who agreed to help without hesitation. Fortunately the school was able to find the nine Chinese craft masters who assisted the children to complete the tasks on Long’s behalf. The Year 1- 8 children in the school completed thousands of Chinese arts and crafts activities over a three-day period so that Long could recover the crystal balls.

Each class in the school participated in the programme for an hour and a half during three days. During the programme the children roamed freely within the school hall, choosing activities that captured their imagination, seeking advice and guidance from the master who was supervising each activity to make the particular project at that station. These activities required intensive cutting, bending, folding and manipulating materials. Each time an item was completed by a child, a sticker was placed on a big dragon mural so that the children could keep track of the items that were made. In all the children from the 500 pupils school made 3000 items!

These items made were:

• Straw weaving – making a life sized shrimp out of a single drinking straw

• Making a water lily by folding paper

• Doing traditional Chinese paintings

• Using Mandarin programmes on computers

• Constructing bamboo water pistols

• Playing a Chinese board games, spinning tops or with diablo

• Making a bamboo dragonfly

• Decorating and flying sky lanterns

• Making traditional Chinese paper cutting creations


The children were totally engrossed in the Great Dragon Challenge.

Parnell District School has taught Mandarin to Year 4-8 students for 12 years now, led by two native speaking teachers. The school also has superb Chinese dance and drumming groups who perform at various functions in Auckland at intervals throughout the year. The school acknowledges the support they have had over the years from the Asia NZ Foundation, the school board of trustees and the Confucius Institute for the Mandarin programme. Xie xie.

Parnell District School's Confucius Classroom Opening

*Audio: Confucius Classrooms: A Radio New Zealand report - Windows Media Player

The Parnell District School's Confucius Classroom opened in June 2010 with Chinese dancing, animal plays and a real, home made Chinese dragon.

Excitement in Learning Mandarin


The enthusiasm of the Parnell children was captured in this radio report from Radio New Zealand and www.voxy.co.nz:

"Room 12's class of excited nine-year-olds at Parnell District School are jostling for the chance to stand up and speak in another language.

They are enthusiastic, engaged and articulate - and could be laying an important foundation for their futures.

It's the weekly Mandarin lesson at this Parnell primary school and these children are taking turns to recount their own and then each other's family relationships. There is good natured teasing when the word for "older sister" is confused for "older brother" by one boy but mostly the pupils are focused and quick learners.

Their teacher allows them to slip into some English when they get confused but she mostly instructs in Mandarin and they respond.

Parnell is a pioneer in the teaching of a second language at primary level. They have offered Mandarin for 10 years and currently all Year 3-8 children have a 45-minute lesson each week from two New Zealand-trained Chinese teachers.

Principal Gary Cain says the initiative has always been welcomed at the decile-10 school.

"Our parents are aware of the wider world; (they) respect the importance of the Mandarin language for their children's future."

A substantial injection of funding for a Confucius Classroom will allow the school to expand its current programme and an excited Mr Cain says the funding will "add the wow factor" to the already popular classes through resources like interactive whiteboards, which he observed in use during Mandarin lessons on a recent Principals' trip to China.

He says the school has an ongoing commitment to Mandarin teaching which they consider an asset for their central Auckland school.

These primary school lessons focus on culture as well as language and songs with hand actions are incorporated as a learning tool which keeps the children's interest levels up.

They are focusing on mastering tones and phrases to provide a foundation of Mandarin that their school hopes they will take through to tertiary level and beyond when New Zealand's future will be increasingly engaged with Asia and particularly China.

Gillian Eadie, Director of the Confucius Institute based at the University of Auckland, has been instrumental in bringing Confucius Classrooms to New Zealand.

She says: "Mandarin is acknowledged as a language in growing demand. Our children's future prosperity, career prospects and professional relationships will become increasingly tied to the region, and the children whose schools have taken up this opportunity through the generosity of the Chinese government will have an important language platform for a truly global future."