China is a country that played a key part in our coming out of the Global Financial Crisis so well, and a country that offers us a positive economic path when others are retreating to protectionism.
Some New Zealand companies are leading the way - Auckland Airport includes signage at key points in the international terminal in Mandarin and in English, and Tourism Holdings caters to those visiting from China in the products and services it offers.
Many iwi are working positively with Chinese people (both in tourism and in developing business in China from New Zealand-sourced products). But more ordinary New Zealanders need to get with the programme.
The NZ Herald's report citing the many racist abuses that a young New Zealand-born Chinese woman regularly endures should shame us all. That is not a story any New Zealander should be proud of.
I do not believe it reflects a society that any of our forbears sought to create. It does not suggest an open and inclusive society.
It certainly highlights that this country has a long way to go to welcoming those from China and elsewhere.
This year as we head into an election, what are the chances of migration bashing, particularly Chinese for political gain? In China what politicians say matters.
There is no Opposition - so any statement by someone in politics is seen as representing the Government. Statements made by politicians in the cut and thrust of our election about China and Chinese are likely to be picked up in China.
They do have the potential to cause offence with a key trading partner that has much to offer us.
New Zealanders should not be complacent about the strength of our relationship with China (and our relative importance) - many other countries can offer China what we can.
There are others (including our good friends across the Ditch) who can offer high quality food, education, tourism, water and ingenuity. New Zealand has many firsts with China that we like to cite - but they are history and we need to continue to look for new firsts.
Having travelled with our former Prime Minister and other Ministers to China, I am strongly aware that the door to the Hall of the Great People in Beijing is well-trodden by other countries.
If we are serious about taking advantage of the China opportunity and building an even stronger relationship, we also need to educate our kids and future generations about China.
Mandarin teaching in New Zealand schools is on the increase but it's still poor.
The uptake in some primary schools is good but those learning at secondary schools is still low.
The obstacles for teaching Mandarin and kids being willing to take it up need to be addressed.
Streaming in some schools based on aggregate grades including for a tough subject like Mandarin may need to be looked at.
Universities looking at school applicants and not taking account of Mandarin learned by non-Mandarin speakers may also need to be considered. This will only change if parents and business demand it of our educators - they will respond to demand, I expect .
Successive New Zealand governments from Helen Clark to John Key to Bill English have done an excellent job in positioning New Zealand positively with China, so that our country can prosper from what it has to offer.
Similarly, many business leaders over decades have done so and passed the baton on to others. Iwi leaders are also forging cultural and business links.
But all New Zealanders have a role to play.
We can do so in many ways from welcoming Chinese tourists in our streets and communities, being understanding of what it's like to be a foreigner in a foreign country, calling out racism of fellow New Zealanders when we see it, demanding our schools offer our kids Mandarin language opportunities (then encouraging our kids to take it up) and demanding more of our politicians when and if they resort to cheap politics based on race.
It's time for more Kiwis to contribute to this country taking advantage of a big opportunity right there waiting for us - before others do and the door becomes closed to us.
- Cathy Quinn is a Partner with MinterEllisonRuddWatts