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Christchurch businesses benefit from attending Lantern forum

06 March 2018

Making business connections and accessing networking opportunities are some of the key benefits for organisations attending this year’s South Island Lantern Business Forum.

The annual forum is being held for the second year in Christchurch and is aimed at all business and organisational leaders that work with or intend to work with China – particularly those from the export, tourism and international education sectors. It is run by ChristchurchNZ, in partnership with Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce, and will be followed by open workshops.

Ara Institute of Canterbury International Director Beth Knowles, who attended last year and plans to be there again in 2018, said it was a good place to make connections between Chinese students and Christchurch companies.

China is a key market for international education providers, with Christchurch becoming increasingly popular as an educational destination for Chinese students. More than 500 students from China study with Ara each year and upon completing their studies, many Chinese students want to stay in New Zealand and seek job opportunities within the region.

“My team and I help connect students with local employment opportunities. Chinese students have essential language skills that can greatly benefit Christchurch businesses. The forum enabled us to connect with local tourism, export and hospitality companies and develop new work placement opportunities for Chinese students studying with Ara.

“These initiatives go a long way to deepening our relationship with China, and that relationship is important for the economic development of our region,” Beth said.

Another company that attended last year’s forum was Vynco, a locally headquartered electrical components company with 100 staff across New Zealand and extensive links with Asia and China. The company has manufacturing operations in Guangdong province employing 400 -500 local Chinese workers to manufacture their various products.

Vynco Chief Executive John Vale said the forum gave Christchurch businesses a place to share ideas and experiences, as well as forming friendships that can ultimately lead to long-lasting business relationships.

“A major part of our NZ business is R&D focus and we employ 10 engineers who design all our products and processes that are manufactured in China. China is a very important market for us, accounting for 40 percent of sales and this is growing rapidly.”

He said while opportunities abound for Christchurch companies seeking to work with manufacturing operations in China, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of businesses claiming to have the right skills.

“We have found it important to sort out those companies with good facilities and working conditions and people you can communicate with.”

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Attraction Linda Falwasser said a high number of business have already registered for the invite-only business forum, which is aimed at helping businesses take a strategic view of opportunities presented by the China market.

Businesses and individuals are also encouraged to register for the five public workshops, held after the business forum, where various issues and opportunities relating to doing business in China will be explored in greater detail. 

  • The South Island Lantern Business Forum will be held at the Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square, on Friday 9 March, from 7.30am-9.30am, followed by workshops later in the morning.