Cultural connections contribute to Guanxi
Cultural similarities between Māori and Chinese can provide a unique connection, contributing to lasting and meaningful Guanxi in the China market.
Kefeng Chu, Director at Richiwi, says there are a surprising number of links between Māori and Chinese people, spanning legend, language, tradition and, according to some scientists, even migration patterns.
Victoria University of Wellington zoologist, Dr Geoff Chambers, believes DNA analysis shows Māori migrated from mainland China to Taiwan, the Pacific Islands and eventually to Aotearoa.
"Perhaps this is where our similarities have their genesis," says Kefeng.
"In Chinese legend, the Monkey King had the ability to transform himself into various forms; in Māori, Maui had similar supernatural abilities.
"In Chinese, Chang'E is said to have flown to the moon after taking heavenly pills and is still living there; in Māori legend, Rona was carried away to the moon and is still living there.
"In the Chinese language meetings are called 'hui', just as they are in Māori; and there are six singular vowels in Chinese – 'a, o, e, i, u, ü' and five vowels in Te Reo Māori – 'a, e, i, o, u'."
Kefeng says Chinese honour and worship their ancestors as do Māori. In China, there are 'Ci Tang' – houses purpose-built for honouring ancestors and those who have passed away; similarly, there are 'Marae' for Māori.
"In China, it's appropriate – and often a must – to give a special gift to people when visiting them, especially if it's the first visit. Māori have a similar practice."
For thousands of years, Chinese have valued jade as a special gift. It shows the owner's social status and is believed to have the power to protect those who wear it and the power to enable prosperity. Similarly, pounamu is treasured by Māori and is believed to have spiritual significance.
"These spritual and cultural similarities are unique connections and Guanxi between New Zealand and China, and the foundation for further country-to-country relationships and trade," says Kefeng.
"How we further establish, maintain and nurture business relations with China depends on how much we understand the cultural and spiritual Guanxi between our two countries and how we value them.
"Personally, I love pounamu. In the past few years, pounamu has been my favourite gift to establish special relations with my business counterparts from China. Of course I explain to my guests the spiritual meaning of greenstone and find that pounamu, as a gift, has a special power to enable working relationships to flourish and last."
So how can you build and maintain Guanxi with your Chinese business partners?
"I highly recommend pounamu as a gift," says Kefeng. "It carries spiritual significance from New Zealand, reinforces the value Chinese people place on jade and strongly connects Aotearoa with the new pounamu owner. I'm sure your existing and potential business partners will truly value the significance it carries and, therefore, the special Guanxi with you."Contact Kefeng if you want to find out more about establishing lasting and meaningful relations with Chinese business partners. Richiwi also provides pounamu as corporate gifts. Each comes with a beautiful box and a unique code which you can discover its origin online.