KOTA KINABALU: New Zealand is looking to strengthen ties with Sabah by implementing a cultural exchange program that will involve two Sabahans staying with a Maori family for six months to immerse in their culture.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun agreed with the Minister of Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell on the proposal and noted that there are many similarities between the indigenous people of Sabah and New Zealand.
“One of the main sources of income in the tourism sector in Sabah is the vista homestays,” said Masidi, a concept that earned the interest of Minister Flavell.
Likewise, visitors from New Zealand can have the chance to learn the Sabahan culture. Flavell hopes to invite New Zealand alumni in Sabah or those keen on Maori culture to the World Indigenous Tourism Conference which would be held in New Zealand next year.
“We have a DNA connection to this land, our ancestors as Polynesian people came from here,” he said.
“This year is the 60th New Zealand and Malaysia anniversary, which goes back earlier when New Zealand soldiers assisted the Malayan forces during the Malayan Emergency in 1949,” said New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia, Dr. John Subritzky.
He added since the 1950s there has been a large influx of Malaysians coming to study in New Zealand, and the long standing relationship between Sabah and New Zealand will continue to grow.
Also present at the event was former Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr Herman Luping who obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.
Source: Sabah Times