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[Herald Interview] New Zealand, Korea well placed in digital ecosystem to work together: ambassador

New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip Turner speaks at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum hosted by the Corea Image Communication at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Aug. 26. (CICI)
New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip Turner speaks at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum hosted by the Corea Image Communication at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Aug. 26. (CICI)
New Zealand and Korea are well placed in a digital ecosystem to work together, according to New Zealand Ambassador to Korea Philip Turner.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2022 Culture Communication Forum (CCF 2022), Turner suggested Korean companies cooperate with New Zealand’s startups, technology companies and young people with big ideas.

“Korea is a world-leading tech country with a lot of very big companies,” Turner said adding that New Zealand was looking at programs for tech exchange for young entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

“We are keen to connect New Zealand’s individual startup entrepreneurs with Korean partners for collaboration and get raised capital,” he said.

“Korea is very good at finding a path to market ideas, whereas New Zealand is very good to come up with creative technologies and ideas. Both New Zealand and Korea are pretty well placed in digital ecosystem to work together.”

Turner also discussed New Zealand’s digital inclusion blueprint.

He cited New Zealand Asia tech code and New Zealand - Korea digital student exchange as major initiatives of digital international education.

Students from Te Kura Māori o Porirua wave to another team online during the Code Camp weekend. (Embassy of New Zealand in Seoul)
Students from Te Kura Māori o Porirua wave to another team online during the Code Camp weekend. (Embassy of New Zealand in Seoul)
According to Turner, #NZ Asia Tech Code Camp facilitated New Zealand students to join teams from seven other countries in the Asia-Pacific region in late June 2022.

#NZ Asia Tech Code Camp is an innovative learning exchange program that combined topical global issues with technical coding skills with a team of six students from Te Kura Maori o Porirua, a predominantly Te Reo Maori school in Porirua, a city in the North Island, New Zealand. The team interacted with school students in South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  

Turner said that the overall theme of the camp was using tourism to match the goals of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – a topic highly relevant for the Asia-Pacific region.

“Students were given the task of profiling their home country’s SDG initiatives, with a focus on sustainable tourism,” added Turner.

Turner highlighted Introducing New Zealand – Korea, a digital student exchange program held this summer that promoted New Zealand education to a South Korean audience and provided key benefits such as global citizenship, cross-cultural relationships, and language skills to students from 28 South Korean and New Zealand schools.

The program offers opportunities for Korean 12 to 14-year-olds, and for New Zealand students to develop language skills and engage in cross-cultural relationships with their international peers through Zoom sessions using quizzes and interactive activities.

New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip speaks in an interview with The Korea Herald at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, on Aug. 26. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip speaks in an interview with The Korea Herald at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, on Aug. 26. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
Turner said that the incorporation of a hybrid STEM-based and cultural-based exchange model was especially welcomed and promoted unique aspects of Māori culture, in a modern format, on the international education stage.

New Zealand is looking for innovative ways to use technology to teach kids digital skills and exposing them to intercultural perspectives and different international views, according to Turner.

“Young people have so much opportunity if they have access to the right technology. Conversely if they (youth) lack digital access or knowledge, they will fall behind,” he said.

According to Turner, New Zealand government is working hard to ensure everyone has access to capability and technology.

“That means working with kids in school and equipping them in that way,” he said adding international connection is also a significant element.

Traditionally, New Zealand had the disadvantage of being far away from major markets or population centers of the world, but his country is now is reaching out to connect with other countries, he said.

According to Turner, Korean investment and tech cooperation remain less-explored areas in New Zealand-Korea bilateral relations.

“There's less investment from Korea in New Zealand than expected considering Korea as the No. 10 economy in the world with huge investors overseas. That's an area where we think we can do a lot more,” he said.

He suggested enhancing cooperation in Korea's creative industry as an extension of tech cooperation such as gaming, films, and drama industry, seeing Koreans' love for games and Korea’s global presence.

Turner said that Auckland is developing an ecosystem of people skilled in the creative industry that would become a huge growth area between New Zealand and Korea.

New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip participates in a panel discussion touching on similarities Korea and his country have in terms of urban design with regards to the need to reconcile between the past and the present at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, on Aug. 26.(CICI)
New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip participates in a panel discussion touching on similarities Korea and his country have in terms of urban design with regards to the need to reconcile between the past and the present at the 2022 Culture Communication Forum at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, on Aug. 26.(CICI)
The ambassador also touched on similarities Korea and his country have in terms of urban design with regards to the need to reconcile between the past and the present.

“Seoul in many ways, is a world leader in urban architecture and design,” said Turner.

“Cheonggye Stream especially was a fantastic success,” said Turner.

He added that some people in Auckland, the biggest city in New Zealand, wanted the same kind of project to be constructed down a main street in the city where a small stream once flowed known as Queen Street.

“Some people say we should do what Seoul did, open that up and it can transform the inner city,”

New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip interacts with guests during break time at 2022 Culture Communication Forum hosted by the Corea Image Communication at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Aug. 26. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Korea Philip interacts with guests during break time at 2022 Culture Communication Forum hosted by the Corea Image Communication at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, on Aug. 26. (Sanjay Kumar/The Korea Herald)
“In that sense, Seoul is very much a pioneer and innovative, which other countries look to for inspiration.” applauded Turner.

Turner also appreciated Seoul’s management of historical heritages combined with traditional and modern architecture including Japanese architecture.

"New Zealand has Maori people invaded by the European settlers but unlike in Korea, the whites didn't go away, they remain in New Zealand,

"We have to reconcile these two parts -- Maori indigenous peoples’ heritages and the European heritage expressed in architecture and urban design as well," Turner said.

Seoul presents a model for reconciliation to New Zealand because like many countries, New Zealand also grappled with colonial legacy, according to Turner.

“It's very interesting to see people of Seoul dealing with two buildings, the demolished old administrative building and the City hall,” he said.



By Sanjay Kumar (sanjaykumar@heraldcorp.com)
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