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Kansai through Kiwi eyes educational project background

The Kansai through Kiwi eyes project arose from the call by former Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand, Masaki Saito, for revitalisation of the bilateral relationship, which in turn followed calls by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Prime Minister Junichi Koizumi for a new level of engagement between the two countries.

The Kansai through Kiwi eyes project explores themes that illustrate ideas about society and how people interact. The project has, thus far, presented ideas and issues that teachers of Year 9 & 10 Social Studies may utilise. While each bite-size chapter explores the Kansai, it develops issues that are equally open to critical exploration in New Zealand society.

The nature of this multimedia project means that there are other avenues of the Kansai that may be explored. For example, issues of people's interaction with the environment, the system of government, and the conservation of heritage sites and the approach entrepreneurs can take are all fertile areas of discovery.

The publisher of Kansai through Kiwi Eyes welcomes expressions of interest from potential sponsors / co-publishers who may be interested in building on this platform, particularly to develop resources for primary school teachers of Social Studies.

Discussions on other ways ahead are being developed around the Japan New Zealand Research Facility work of the Centre for Citizenship Education, and can be communicated on

Project co-sponsors
The Kansai through Kiwi eyes project was executed with a grant from the Commemorative Organization for the Japan World Exposition (’70). New Zealand co-sponsors include the School of Marketing and International Business from Victoria University of Wellington, Air New Zealand, Asia Pacific Economic News and the Centre for Citizenship Education.

The project was implemented between April 2006 – March 2007, and involved the Wellington based project team interviewing more than 100 New Zealanders and Japanese in both countries, and in editing film, audio and references from them. The draft website was made available for comment to Anthony Haas from interested parties. DecisionMaker Publications and interested project partners began implementing subsequent publications during the second quarter 2007, initially focused on government and economic world for secondary school audiences.

Distribution on DVD, YouTube and web
In the second quarter 2007, free distribution of 3000 copies of the DVD edition, with booklet, began to Heads of Social Studies Departments in New Zealand schools, and other participants in the project, with allied content made available on the web at, on YouTube and Distribution also included audiences of the Japan Information and Cultural Centre, Wellington, members of New Zealand's Parliament.

Click on VisitKansai at to view trailers and other work in progress for chapters at the heart of Kansai through Kiwi eyes.


Kansai through Kiwi eyes chapters were planned for use by teachers with students, typically5-10 minutes long. They illustrate key understandings, end with several references for finding out more, credits, and other content accessible through the DVD menu. Content of chapters on the DVD is extended on the website. The introduction is also intended for wider audiences.

Key understandings
Each section of ‘Kansai through Kiwi eyes’ is illustrative of a key conceptual understanding about society, the significance of this idea and how people might participate in society. The teacher notes list key understandings, and link to worksheets to help teachers plan lessons in support of social science about "place" and "culture". Subsequent projects take a similar approach to "government" and "economic world".

Each school can expect to have at least one DVD including all the chapters published in Kansai through Kiwi eyes, by the Centre for Citizenship Education in the first quarter 2007. The DVD includes the audio visual chapters, the menu, Find out more with web links for use on computers with internet connection, credits and some documentation. Together they give a picture of Japan today. Each chapter is a resource for a lesson that fits the New Zealand social studies and other parts of the social science syllabus. The booklet with the DVD in the DVD case summarises the key understandings, content and relevance to years 9-10 New Zealand social science.

Web includes its homepage summarizing the Kansai through Kiwi eyes resource, the list of chapters, links to trailers on YouTube, links to the key understandings and notes for teacher, expanded Kansai chapters content and other useful links on and elsewhere.

Notes for teachers
The teacher notes for the “Kansai through Kiwi eyes” project, introduced on and extended on the website, are there to help teachers use chapters in support of lessons. The DecisionMaker Education pages have other worksheets in support of citizenship education, built since 1990. They also link to Centre for Citizenship Education pages, and will link to more information about Japan and New Zealand.

Find out more
A feature of this educational publication is to include references which help readers find out more. Much of this reference material will be on the web. Some will be on the DVD to assist people who do not access the web, and material that might be taken off the web.

Discussion forum
The Centre for Citizenship Education and interested parties are exploring ways in which schools in New Zealand and the Kansai may be more closely linked with the aid of information technology, including possibly through use of the Wiki approach. The information technology can assist students and teachers in New Zealand and Kansai to develop understanding about each other, perhaps work on projects together, and maybe visit each other. Discussion forum, email, pages using wiki and other programmes and hardware could be used to build relationships, particularly those opened up by school exchanges for people benefiting from sister city relationships.

Secondary school student exchanges
Many schools in both countries arrange student exchanges. Chapters of Kansai through Kiwi eyes can assist people to build on relationships and services available to discuss, budget and make practical arrangements for visiting each other. The Sakai Wellington and Hutt Minoh sister city relationships, featured in chapters of Kansai through Kiwi eyes, illustrate what students from these and more than forty other Japan New Zealand sister city connections can do to use foundations on which student and other citizen exchanges can be expanded.

Tertiary student study abroad
Tertiary students from both countries, helped by reciprocal agreements between universities, study abroad in undergraduate, graduate and research programmes. Osaka University of Foreign Languages, based in Minoh City, illustrates how students study abroad to learn other languages. Ritsumeikan University, based in Kyoto City, illustrates how students study abroad in a range of disciplines. Students can find out more about how other students have found the study abroad experience, and websites which will lead them to information and services to help them plan.

Citizen exchanges
Citizens of many ages are interested in visiting other countries. The Hutt Minoh Friendship Club illustrates enthusiasm for more travel and exchange between these two cities and their neighbourhoods. Chapters show people traveling for study, pleasure, business and government relations.

Sister cities
Sister cities have widened opportunities for study, pleasure, business and government relationships between people who otherwise might have lacked the motivation, contact or knowledge to visit or develop mutually beneficial activities with the other country. Chapters draw on the Minoh Hutt and Wellington Sakai experience to illustrate some of what is possible.

Research for producing Kansai through Kiwi eyes involved more than 100 New Zealanders and Japanese interested in explaining relations between the two countries. Amongst them were people from research institutions, universities, government and business who support government leaders who advocate a new level of engagement between the countries, and who have a particular interest in reinvigorating the economic relationship. Chapters introduce Ritsumeikan University, which has many faculties with research and teaching programmes that match New Zealand interests.

From Anthony Haas, for the Centre for Citizenship Education, April 2007

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