Tauranga businesses and schools are taking up learning Mandarin as the Chinese language becomes more important in the global economy.
The Chinese Community School has expanded this year to include primary schools in its reach.
The school, based at Tauranga Girls' College, gives high school and adult students lessons in Mandarin and Chinese culture, art and customs.
Girls' College principal Pauline Cowens said the school had expanded this year to include three primary schools - Gate Pa, Greenpark and Oropi.
Because of the expansions, Ms Cowens said the school was entitled to two Mandarin language assistants from The Confucius Institute at Victoria University, an organisation dedicated to promoting artistic, cultural and intellectual exchange between China and New Zealand. "Our businesses in Tauranga are facing to the east. The Chinese Community School is a community service, not a business opportunity. It's delivered to everyone that wants to learn Chinese language and anyone who wants to learn at as low a cost as possible."
Ms Cowens said Mandarin was not an easy language to learn so encouraging students to study it at an earlier age gave them a better understanding.
Priority One Instep manager Lyn Parlane said it was well known having more Mandarin speakers in New Zealand was crucial for the growing relationship with China.
"This is a great opportunity for people in the region to be able to understand and learn the Chinese culture and also the language.
"All of our schools couldn't possibly teach Mandarin so we decided to work on a collective arrangement so there is a facility where students could go from all of our schools to learn Mandarin at a secondary school level."
Ms Parlane said seed funding was provided by Priority One, Venetta Jessie Miles Trust and The Acorn Foundation to help establish the Chinese Community School.
She said exporters were also making use of the school to learn Mandarin before heading to China.
Chinese Community School director Vivien Ting said China was a super power and more Chinese people were buying big corporations.
"In the future, most of us will probably be employed by Chinese people. I think it's important for Kiwis to learn the language and culture.
"If you know the language, there will be no need to rely on an interpreter."