Wanganui High School has been approved by the international Confucius Institute in Beijing to set up a Confucius Classroom - one of only four in New Zealand secondary schools and only 400 worldwide.
Guests at a powhiri yesterday in the school hall included the ambassador from the People's Republic of China, Xu Jianguo, Director of the Confucius Institute Victoria University, Dr Luo Hui, Whanganui MP Chester Borrows and Mayor Annette Main.
Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions aligned with China that aim to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and organise student cultural exchanges.
The institutes operate within established universities, colleges and secondary schools, providing funding, teachers and educational materials in a partnership with local schools or school districts.
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The new classroom opened after performances from High School's Maori culture group and the Chinese students, who performed a lion dance.
But the spectacular performance of the day came from a 28-strong Shaolin Martial Arts Troupe in New Zealand on a Confucius Institute performance tour. These Chinese performers thrilled the audience with spectacular acrobatics using swords and intricate martial arts movements.
High School principal Garry Olver welcomed the guests, some of whom had travelled from China to be at the opening. He described it as an "illustrious" occasion.