The signing of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC) in July 2013 has ushered in a new era of collaboration between New Zealand and Taiwan on trade, customs duty reduction, and TV and film production. Accordingly, the diverse culture of New Zealand will become more familiar to the Taiwanese people via the 2015 Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE), which will feature New Zealand as the theme country, Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture (MOC) announced.
The MOC, supervisor of the TIBE, will join hands with the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ), Creative New Zealand, and the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) in Taipei on this special event, introducing New Zealand’s core value of diversity to a wider audience. This event will highlight the distinct features of Maori culture and oral literature and seek to effect intercultural exchange with Taiwan’s aboriginal community while showcasing New Zealand’s unique attributes
Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai expressed her hope that with the ministry’s “Southern Strategy” Taiwan can broaden its scope, extending its erstwhile focus on Europe and the United States to countries in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia and New Zealand. As a part of ANZTEC, Taiwan and New Zealand have agreed to collaborate on the post-production sector of the film industry. By featuring New Zealand as the theme country of the 2015 TIBE, it is expected that the “Southern Strategy” will kick off to a good start and be implemented across the spheres of film, TV and culture.
Minister Lung said that the endeavour actually began during the 2013 TIBE earlier this year. When the PANZ delegation visited Taiwan at the invitation of the Taipei Book Fair Foundation (TBFF), Lung told the delegation that both sides would benefit from further collaboration saying “while Taiwan needs a gateway to access the southern hemisphere, Taiwan can serve as New Zealand’s northern gateway to the Chinese market.”
Lung also extended her gratitude to NZCIO director Stephen Payton’s aid in inviting New Zealand’s foremost novelist Lloyd Jones to Taiwan. Lung has been deeply impressed with Jones’s masterpiece Mister Pip, and she hopes to see the film adaptation in theatres in Taiwan soon. It is projected that, through such cultural exchanges, a growing number of readers will get acquainted with more New Zealand writers.
NZCIO director Stephen Payton said that it was an honour for New Zealand to feature as the theme country at the 2015 TIBE.
The NZCIO is looking forward to collaborating with the TBFF and Ministry of Culture to introduce the beauty of New Zealand’s literature and cultural spirit to Taiwan. Similarly, it also constitutes an opportunity for the New Zealanders to get to know the wonderful island of Taiwan.
As a sign of its appreciation of the TIBE, the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office will invite New Zealand’s most celebrated contemporary novelist Lloyd Jones to Taiwan, as a feature of the theme country campaign. In his opening address Stephen Payton stated, “In his novel Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones takes us to another island, Bougainville, and asks us to think about how influences from other times and places shape us an individuals and communities. This is writing we can share, that we need to share, including with our friends in Taiwan.”
Mr Jones has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and having his work selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Two of Jones’s books have been translated into Chinese and published in Taiwan: Mister Pip (2010, China Times Publishing Co.) andHand Me Down World (2012, Stride Publishing). Mister Piphas been selected as recommended reading in various high schools throughout Taiwan, and a film adaptation premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012. The film version, starring Hugh Laurie, the famed Dr Gregory House in the hit TV series House, as Mr Watts, is expected to be released some time later in Taiwan.
Lloyd Jones received the invitation to Taiwan not more than five days ago. As a writer, Jones has been writing and reading stories all his life. He takes great delight in the process of storytelling, with which the writer takes the readers on a ride through different a time and space. In the present age of information explosion, we have varied media and channels of communication, but the act of reading still largely relies on the accumulation of other people’s writing. Both the writer and the reader have their own free will. Language is not a barrier that keeps out one from the other; we can still share and communicate through stories. Jones stressed the importance of book fairs, not only for the promotion of reading but also for readers and writers alike. A book fair is a place where books get to speak for themselves. True to the original meaning of the word “fair,” it is a playground and a marketplace. It is a place allowing more people to have fun.
At the announcement press conference, Minister Lung, Director Payton, and Mr Jones exchanged books as greeting gifts. Lung presented Payton with the English version of the four-volume Contemporary Taiwanese Literature and Art Series, which covers essays, novels, poems, and paintings. In return, Director Payton presented Minister Lung with New Zealand Journey and Janet Frame, the female New Zealand writer’s autobiography. Mr Jones also gave the minister the original English version of Mister Pip as a gift.
Stephen Payton said that Taiwan has been a close friend of New Zealand in the Asian region; with the recent signing of the ANZTEC, further long-term collaboration can be expected in the future.
Pictured above: Press conference announcing New Zealand as the 2015 TIBE theme country. (From left) NZCIO deputy director Serena Gar Ming Chui, director Stephen Payton, Minister of Culture Lung Ying-tai, New Zealand novelist Lloyd Jones, and TBFF chair Doris Wang.
New Zealand, the Guest of Honour in 2015 TIBE
Located in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand has been hailed as a “living laboratory of geology” for its rich natural resources and geological wonders. In recent years, The Lord of the Rings franchise has helped promote the country’s magnificent scenery to the whole world. Moreover, New Zealand has proven itself a true “land of milk and honey” with its vintage wines, organic foods, and bountiful produce.
New Zealand has also been quite active in the realm of culture and creativity. New Zealand featured as the Guest Country of Honour at the prestigious 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair, marking the first-ever comprehensive introduction of the country’s literature, profound culture, and social diversity to German-speaking readers as well as the global publishing industry. As witnessed by all, New Zealand has indeed turned the privilege into a resounding success.
Collaboration between New Zealand and the TIBE has achieved remarkable results since the inception of the relationship in 2011. Illustrator Gavin Bishop, for instance, graced the book fair with his presence in 2011 and published the Chinese version of his bestselling Friends: Snake and Lizard later, which went on to win the 2012 China Times Book Review Award. The 2013 TIBE was honoured with a visit from Kevin Chapman and Anne de Lautour, President and Association Director of the PANZ, as well as Belinda Jones of Creative New Zealand; they all praised the book fair for its vigour and vibrancy. Julia Marshall of Gecko Press has attended the TIBE for years on end, and the publisher has just won the 2013 Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in Oceania, which goes to show the emerging presence of New Zealand publishers in the global publishing scene. The fervent interaction between New Zealand’s publishing industry and the TIBE has ultimately led to their induction as the theme country in 2015.
The 2015 TIBE theme country pavilion of New Zealand is expected to showcase a diverse line-up of outstanding publications, covering the subjects of literature, art, history, lifestyle, fashion, design, health, education, children’s books, and illustrations. Also, Creative New Zealand will introduce a “Translation Grant Scheme,” an initiative seeking to promote the translation of New Zealand publications. Any interested publishers can apply for the grant scheme and further participate in the 2015 TIBE activities.
Lloyd Jones: A Brief Introduction
Born in Lower Hutt, New Zealand in 1955, Lloyd Jones attended Victoria University of Wellington. A resident of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, Jones was a journalist who covered the political turmoil in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s, when the autonomous region of Bougainville sought independence from Papua New Guinea. Coverage of the Bougainville conflict, however, was blocked and censored by the government.
This experience led to the birth of Mister Pip, recipient of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Overall Best Book and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. Other notable works include Book of Fame (2000; winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards), Biografi: An Albanian Quest (1993; a New York Times Notable Book), Choo Woo (1998),Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002), and Paint Your Wife(2004).
Mister Pip is the story of an island caught up in the throes of war. The only remaining white man is Mr Watts, who stays behind to educate the local black children. Mr Watts urges his students to read over and over Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, in which the eponymous Mr Pip is the protagonist. On the island stripped of virtually everything, the children seem to take a leave from the drab and dull reality and enter the alternative world of the novel. The magical power of reading depicted in the book serves to illustrate the author’s superb storytelling technique.