The Context: Asia-Pacific events build connections between academics and people engaging with the Asia-Pacific

Building Bridges: Bill Youren's Vision of Peace 

A special screening presented by the Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence

The re-emergence of a global citizen before his time

The Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence were delighted to host a special screening of Building Bridges: Bill Youren's Vision of Peace on 15thSeptember 2023, at Dunedin's beautiful Rialto Cinema.

The documentary, released in August 2023, shines light on the largely lost story of a remarkable New Zealander, Bill Youren, who for decades provided a courageous and empathetic counterpoint to the narrative that defined popular understandings of China during a time of cold war conflict.

The story is told through Bill's own rare and extraordinary footage of China and rural New Zealand, which he filmed as he strived to build bridges between the two countries. Bill was a Hawkes Bay farmer and peace activist from the post war years to the 1970’s. He was taken by the Chinese people, their history and art, as well as the progressive possibilities of a new China in the 1950’s. He strived to build understanding between New Zealand and China even as conflicts between East and West escalated.

Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace | Film | NZ On Screen
Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace - Building Bridges is a portrait of Bill Youren, a Hawke’s Bay farmer, peace activist and political organiser for the left — an unusual combination in conservative 1950s New Zealand. John Chrisstoffels’ first feature-length documentary uses Youren’s fi…

About 60 people, many of them cultural bridge-builders themselves, gathered to watch the film and connect with others who build understanding, relationships and cooperation between New Zealand and China, including via the Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence.

The Dunedin Chinese Art/Instrument Association set the scene before the film with beautiful live music on traditional Chinese string and wind instruments.

It was also a chance to meet the academics who brought Bill’s story back to light via the film,  through a question and answer session after the film.

The session included two of the film writers, Associate Professors James Beattie and Richard Bullen, along with renowned rural historian, Professor Tom Brooking. All three had featured in the documentary, providing valuable commentary about the context of Bill Youren's story. Having them there felt as though the conversation continued beyond the film, with additional insights as well as intriguing 'behind the scenes' snippets.

The discussion included thoughts on how Bill might have responded to today’s times, as a clear thinking and empathetic global citizen. Also appreciated was Bill Youren's vision as a film-maker, which lay behind the documentary's visual beauty.

It was an inspiring evening, highlighting the importance of keeping such stories alive, as well as engaging with the world we live in as informed global citizens.

The Context Asia-Pacific Summit 2022

The CAPEs inaugural Asia-Pacific summit examined how we can navigate today’s big challenges and enter new markets while setting a course for a sustainable, inclusive, and profitable future.

The Asia-Pacific offers great opportunities to overcome our challenges and do business better. Seizing these opportunities involves changes to how we do business and our supporting eco-systems. What can we change together? We brought together leading business academics and business leaders to understand the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of Asia-Pacific business.

The panel discussions and practical breakout sessions connected business leaders and top academic researchers, from fields such as international business, Māori and Indigenous business, talent development, consumer engagement and tech.

Plenary highlights

Read about some of the highlights from the plenary panel discussions.

Whakapapa, communities and innovation to the fore at CAPE Summit
An Asia-Pacific of whakapapa, community and opportunity came into focus at the CAPEs inaugural The Context: Asia-Pacific Summit, held on 30 August at the University of Auckland Business School. Here are just some of the highlights of an inspirational day.

'This mahi matters' - opening remarks from the Hon Phil Twyford

Minister of State for Trade & Export Growth the Hon Phil Twyford delivered opening remarks via video, emphasising the importance at the current challenging environment of "knowing our operating context and the priorities of our partners as best we can." Watch the full remarks below.


Find out more about the 2022 event at the Summit event page

The Context: Asia-Pacific Summit
The CAPEs inaugural Asia-Pacific summit discussed how we can navigate today’s big challenges and enter new markets while setting a course for a sustainable, inclusive, and profitable future.