The National Final of the 11th “Chinese Bridge” Chinese Proficiency Competition and the Award Ceremony for New Zealand secondary school students was held at Westlake Boys High School on August 4, 2018. 30 secondary school regional finalists from all over the country gathered in Auckland to showcase their Chinese oratory skills and cultural talents.

The event was opened with a lion dance performed by students from Northcote Intermediate and Northcote College, which received the first applause of the day.

Each contestant had three parts to gain points: speech, answering questions, and talent show. Although slightly nervous, each shared their experiences with learning Chinese and their understandings about Chinese culture, to support this year’s topic “Learn Chinese Double Your World”.

After almost four hours of ongoing competition, the winners were finally announced. Jamie Laing and Kyle Sterne, both students from Auckland's St Peter's College, won the Best Talent Award. Jamie Laing also, with Seth Robertson, Wellington High School; Michael Stanley, Rotorua Boys' High School; Alexander Berns, Westlake Boys High School and Ariel Liew, Macleans College won the top prizes in the Senior Category. They will have the opportunity to go to Kunming, China – all expenses paid - in October to represent New Zealand in the international final of Chinese Bridge competition.

Other winners on the day were Lesieli Katoa, Wellington East Girls College; Aaric Prasitdamrong, Carncot Independent School; Ruby Stretch-Treweek, Tahuna Intermediate School; Sohyun Kwon, St Margaret's College; and Charles Yates, ACG Parnell College who won the top prizes in the Junior Category. Ten Chinese teachers were also awarded certificates as Best Coaches for their winning students.

“Chinese bridge connects the hearts of the peoples from different countries, different cultures and different religions. And it provides a very useful platform for young people from different backgrounds to exchange ideas, to enhance mutual understanding and friendship between China and the rest of the world”, said Mme Xu Erwen, Consul General of the Consulate-General of PRC in Auckland at the presentation of awards.

Mr John McKinnon, former NZ Ambassador to China, also spoke to the contestants and audience to reinforce the language’s importance. In his remarks, in both Chinese and English, he encouraged the students to continue to pursue their Chinese journeys into the future.

Many other dignitaries attended as well as parents, teachers and friends of the contestants. The national speech finals was organised by the Confucius Institute in Auckland and supported by ICBC to support Chinese language and culture in schools.

Congratulations goes to all the students who competed not just in the national finals but regional competitions as well.