A joint effort is behind courses promoting Chinese language and culture courses in Whanganui for people looking at developing business or educational links with the world's most populous nation.
The Whanganui District Council's economic arm Whanganui and Partners, Whanganui High School and Community Education Whanganui will promote the six-week introductory course starting next month.
Adrian Dixon said the courses were being set up because they believed they would be useful for local businesses looking at the Chinese market and could help with any effort to tap into the potential of the Chinese education market.
"It could also help potential Chinese investors to look at Whanganui as an opportunity for them," Mr Dixon said.
"Understanding the language and culture of the Chinese reduces fears and doubts for anyone wanting to get involved in that market and that's why these workshops are so important," he said.
The first of the six courses takes place at Whanganui UCOL from 5.30-6.30pm on May 3 and will focus on basic language and culture and then be followed by a business-focused workshop.
He said a key to the courses was the teaching resource provided by Whanganui High School's Confucius Room, which is a specific learning centre for students studying the Chinese language and culture. Headed by teacher Beck Ding, it is funded by the Chinese government and recently had secured another teaching resource for the room.
"That extra resource has given us that opportunity to do this," Mr Dixon said.
He said Whanganui and Partners was limited in what it could do in promoting such workshops and could not rely on ratepayer money to fund it.
"But pulling in partnerships and lobbying central government you start getting the infrastructure we need without hitting the ratepayers up."
He said introducing the Chinese workshops tied in neatly with the launch of the Whanganui international education strategy on Tuesday.
Whanganui and Partners has been working with Education NZ to develop the strategy over the past six months and details will be unveiled at next week's function.
Mr Dixon said he and Greg Fromont, who has been working with the education arm of Whanganui and Partners, went to Education NZ and outlined their plan.
"They told us to develop the strategy and they would fund it. That funding enabled a consultant to look at funding opportunities and our capacity to handle students.
"The good thing is Education NZ have indicated they're prepared to fund a good amount to implement the strategy."