Linking up across oceans

The Teochew International Federation convened in Auckland for its 20th edition, providing delegates with trade and business opportunities.

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House delegates close to the convention centre to ease their commute and provide them with more time to do business


The biennial Convention of the Teochew International Federation unites people of Teochew descent from 110 organisations globally. The get-together allows local business executives and entrepreneurs to network and build relationships with international delegates, promoting collaboration across trade, culture and social welfare.

Zhi Chen, vice chairman of the 20th Convention and vice chairman of the Chao Shan General Association of New Zealand, said: “The convention is a chance to not just celebrate the friendship of the Teochew global community, but an opportunity to look at the host country and see whether there’s a chance to do business there.”

Chen added that hosting the convention in Auckland provided “a good chance to promote New Zealand to the world”.

Currently, there are more than 80 million people identifying as Teochew – originating from the east of Guangdong Province – some 30 million of whom live outside China.

Delegates were welcomed on the first night with a banquet at SkyCity Convention Centre. Entertainment was an international showcase, from Japanese and Korean drumming, to Russian, Middle Eastern and Latin American dances, before presentations by the Chao Shan orchestra and Wushu group.

The next day’s opening ceremony took place on a stage decorated with a giant Maori pou (statue) complete with a traditional Maori powhiri (welcoming ceremony) and cultural performance.

Four different forums then followed: one on Teochew culture; another for the medical academic community; a youth forum, and an economic development and investment trading forum.

During the forums, New Zealand’s opportunities for trade and business were highlighted with strong political support. For instance, VIP attendees at the convention included New Zealand’s trade and export minister, minister of ethnic communities, and minister for employment, as well as Auckland mayor Phil Goff, former prime minister John Key, and the Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand.

The evening functions were also leveraged to present the best of New Zealand – through food. Delegates feasted on lobster the first night, and paua (abalone) the second.

In addition, the convention precinct was festooned with flags representing the conference, with the SkyTower flashing red and blue at night – the colours of the convention.

Chen said the event was very successful “We have already had enquiries about new business from the education, tourism and health products sectors. The benefits are already happening,” he said.

The large influx of visitors who spoke limited English was supported by a crew of 300 enthusiastic local volunteers.Volunteers met VIPs at Auckland International Airport to take them through biosecurity and customs, and booths were set up in conference hotels to help guests with their check-in and provide destination information.

During the conference, a translation system run by artificial intelligence was also deployed, and “while it wasn’t perfect”, Chen believes it was a commendable effort on SkyCity’s part.

The Chao Shan General Association worked closely with Tourism New Zealand, to obtain its support when bidding. Through the Conference Assistance Programme and working with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, the association also helped develop a bid document translated into the Teochew dialect.

Event The 20th Convention of the 
Teochew International Federation
Organiser Chao Shan General Association of New Zealand
Venue SkyCity Convention Centre
Date September 21-23, 2019
Attendance 1,500 international delegates, 
500 accompanying visitors, 
and 1,200 local attendees