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6

On 27 August,

Natasha Hamilton-Hart

,

Director of the New Zealand Asia Institute

(NZAI), opened the 2016 Asia Savvy conference

by extending a warm welcome to the guest

speakers and the participants, particularly the

visiting students from the Auckland University

of Technology, Massey University, Lincoln

University and The University of Waikato. She

complimented the theme choice, “Asia: Thinking

Big and Small”, and encouraged the participants

to share their “big and small stories” about

the dynamic and diverse Asia region. She also

thankfully acknowledged the hard work of the

Organising Committee and Dinah Towle fromNZAI,

and commended their success in attracting a

record number of student registrations, essay

submissions and sponsors.

Speaking on behalf of the Organising

Committee, Annie Ren, a third year student

from the Department of Commerce and

Property in Auckland’s Business School,

expressed her team’s deep appreciation for

NZAI’s support for the conference, which made

the valuable opportunity possible for them to

learn to put together a significant event. She

appealed to the participants to continue the

interactive, attendee-centred, and low-waste

tradition of the student-led conference and

to join the organisers in making it a success.

She also assured those interested in helping

organise the 2017 Asia Savvy that they would

enjoy and cherish the good learning experience.

Rod Oram

was then invited to the keynote

podium, where the internally acclaimed

business journalist shared some important

findings and insights from his 2015 research

trips to Beijing, London and Chicago for his

new book, Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the

Anthropocene (Wellington, NZ: Bridget Williams

Books, 2016). Rod stated point blank that it was

not wise for New Zealand to focus primarily on

winning the wallets of the middle class in Asian

countries. For one thing, New Zealand would

never be able to produce the volume to satisfy

the big and diverse markets in the region. For

another, NZ-Asia relationships should not be

limited to merely business interactions and

operations in the first place.

Rod further underscored the fact that the

world, including Asia, had in recent years been

confronted with the grave problems of slow

economic growth, stagnant/falling incomes,

weak labour markets, and deteriorating

ecological life support systems. In the

persistent, near-crisis economic and ecological

Asia: Thinking Big and Small

Asia Savvy summaries