Confucius Classroom

The first Confucius Classroom in the South Island of New Zealand was established at Columba College in 2012.

China, through the Confucius Institutes, has established non-profit public institutions which aim to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries such as New Zealand. The Confucius Institutes not only provide a place to teach Chinese language and culture but they have also become a platform for cultural exchanges between China and other countries as well as a means of encouraging friendship and co-operation between China and the rest of the world. The headquarters of Confucius Institute is in Beijing, under the Office of the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban).

Chinese at Columba College

Chinese (Mandarin) was first offered to selected students in 2006 as part of the school’s Gifted and Talented programme, with those taking part responding well to the challenge of studying a new language. The success of this extension programme provided the College with an opportunity to introduce Chinese as one of the three languages offered. Dunedin’s sister city bond with Shanghai and New Zealand’s growing trade relations with China were factors in the decision made to introduce Mandarin to the school’s languages curriculum.

The teacher of Chinese is Ms I. Ding, a graduate of Beijing Normal University with New Zealand secondary teacher training.

Through our affiliation as a Confucius Classroom with the University of Canterbury we are fortunate to have a full-time Mandarin Language Assistant to assist with our Chinese language programmes.

senior school confucius classroom
Breaking the language barriers... Columba College Year 9 students (from left) Renée Hodgkinson, Pun Chittapraneerat, Kate Waterman, Gabrielle Mogil, Penelope Couper and Sarah Agyeman study Mandarin with teacher, Mrs Juliana Pu, 2009.

Photograph: Linda Robertson of The Otago Daily Times 

2016 Otago Chinese Prize Giving

Columba College hosted the 2016 Otago Chinese Prize Giving on 11th November. 

Kara Bethune (Year 13), Heidi Chin (Year 13), Isabella Lau (Year 12), Ashlee Turner (Year 10) achieved “HSK Excellence Awards”.

The Year 9 Chinese class and the GATE class participated in “The First NZ Intermediate and Secondary Schools’ Students Chinese Short Film Competition” in July.  Sophie Baron, Sylvie Brosnahan, Ella Heffernan, Kiki Iseya, Maia Joseph, Joanna Liu, Sacha McConnon, Bree Mosley, Shannon Sealy, Lara Seaton, Georgia Tattersall, Serim Woo (Year 9) won a Merit Award for their film “Columba College Got Talent”.  Samantha Lindsay, Mia Warman, Joelle Gatenby, Joanna Zhang (Year 10) won a Merit Award for their film Dining In.

Year 10-12 students participated in the 2016 New Zealand Chinese Essay Competition in August. Niruthmie Pallawala (Year 10), Eleanor Dunn (Year 10), Lilli Renner (Year 11) and Jamie McAuslan (Year 12) won national Merit prizes. 

Columba College won “Best School” prize in the Chinese calligraphy competition. 

2016 Excellence School Students Awards went to Lara Seaton (Year 9), Zara Galliven (Year 10), Eleanor Dunn (Year 10), Hannah Prout (Year 11), Jamie McAuslan (Year 12), Kara Bethune (Year 13). 

Prizes gained in these various competitions were awarded at the Chinese Confucius Institute Prize-Giving evening held on 11th November and hosted by Columba College.  Years 7-10 students performed a Chinese Folk Dance at the Prize-Giving. 


Calligraphy Prize


Adam Lam, Jennifer Zhu, Grace Blackie, Jing Jiang, Ivy Ding


Chinese Prize-Giving – GATE class performance


2016 Excellence School Students Awards Kara Bethune, Eleanor Dunn, Jamie McAuslan, Lara Seaton


Columba College receiving “Best School” prize in the Chinese Calligraphy Competition

Visit by the Chinese Ambassador to New Zealand

April 2009

Columba College has been the fortunate recipient of over 200 donated books and DVDs from Hanban, China. A special corner has been set up in the school library for the Chinese collection and on Tuesday, 7th April, 2009 an opening ceremony for the collection was held. It was attended by all the girls currently learning Chinese, students who come from Chinese-speaking countries and invited guests.

Ambassador Zhang of the People's Republic of China flew especially to Dunedin for the ceremony and was accompanied by Mr Liu Jiang, First Secretary for Education, and Dr Hannah Han, National Chinese Adviser. We were honoured by their presence and appreciated their encouragement and support of our introduction of Chinese into the curriculum.

Gabrielle Mogil in Year 11 spoke in Chinese on behalf of the students, and all present were impressed by her delivery and intonation. 

senior schhol confucius ambassodor
Ambassador Zhang and Gabrielle Mogil