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Photo of Charles Rowe
Charles Rowe
(Ngāti Mutunga (Taranaki), Ngāti Mutunga (Wharekauri/Chatham Islands), Ngāti Raukawa)
BA Japanese & Asian Studies, BSc Food Science, DipLang Chinese

I started the Diploma in Language (DipLang) endorsed in Chinese midway through my BSc in Food Science and BA in Japanese and Asian Studies. I had been interested in New Zealand's food exports to Asia, and so it was clear to me that a working knowledge of Chinese language would be helpful in pursuing a career in this area. I had no prior knowledge of Chinese, and so taking my first course at the Otago Summer School was a challenging but immensely rewarding experience. I went on to take papers on Chinese literature and society, contributing credits to my BA.

In my finalist year I participated in the Otago Exchange programme, visiting Tsinghua University in Beijing. The advanced listening and speaking courses I completed during my exchange contributed to my DipLang in Chinese, and two Master level courses I attended at the Tsinghua School of Economics and Management provided valuable credits for my BSc. A calligraphy course, which was taught by a retiree professor (the 'old master') provided me with some of the fondest memories of my student life.

After graduation I went on to receive grants and a scholarship to undertake research and further study in China. In the second year of my LLM at Peking University, I wrote on themes of Food Security in New Zealand-China relations. In 2015 I began working for Nissui in Tokyo. Nissui owns a 50% stake in New Zealand-based Sealord, and both companies have expanding interests in exporting New Zealand produce across Asia.

I intend to continue working in this area, doing my part to add value to New Zealand’s exports to Asia. My advice to anyone considering Chinese at Otago: mastering Mandarin opens doors!