The Maori tribal people trace their ancestral roots about a thousand years ago to a legendary island named Hawaiki. It is said they traveled a great distance to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in 40 waka canoes.
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Building bridges for cultural exchange

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Support The Program | Summary | Opportunity | Objectives | Activities | Guest Speakers | Films | Itinerary | Participants | Organizers | Partners | Photos | Budget

Maori Video Final from Tobie Openshaw on Vimeo.

Dai Ai 2 TV Episode featuring Tony's background, Voices In The Clouds, and the Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program.

Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program

An Austronesian cultural exchange program offering participants the to discover their indigenous roots and develop cultural connections.

What if the great diaspora of 400 million Austronesian peoples from 38 countries strengthened their cultural bonds by uniting at the source of their cultural roots? What could they offer the world with their chorus of voices?

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The initial sponsored trip for the Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program will bring a group of Maori film students from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) to tour Taiwan from December 3-17, 2013. A group of 9 people will visit various universities and indigenous cultural sites to learn more about the cultural similarities and differences between the Maori people and the indigenous people of Taiwan. They will work together with people in Taiwan to develop indigenous media cooperation.

This exchange program will be well-documented and will be shared with audiences around the world. The film students will produce films about their discoveries in Taiwan. Bridge Production Studios will also produce a video about the experiences of these students while they are in New Zealand and Taiwan.

The exchange program is an opportunity for scholars and students in Taiwan to learn about Austronesian culture and to learn from each other. There will be an Austronesian Film Festival that will screen indigenous films from Taiwan and New Zealand. There will be workshops and guest speakers. Visitors and participants can meet with Maori face-to-face to exchange ideas and practical solutions for increased media cooperation. The program will develop relationships that can be seeds for future collaboration between indigenous nations. Future exchange program themes will focus on cultural exchange, tourism development and international trade.


Once connected to the mainland of Asia, original settlers appeared in what is now Taiwan over 10,000 years ago. As the Ice Age glaciers melted, sea levels rose, and Taiwan became isolated from the mainland, and its inhabitants developed unique cultures and languages. International academic research suggests that a great migration of humanity began anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 years ago from the Pacific island of Taiwan in great fleets of sailing vessels. They fanned out across the Philippines, Southern Vietnam and the Malay Peninsula. They continued island-hopping and establishing colonies on the unpopulated islands of Indonesia, Polynesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, Easter Island, and the Hawaiian Islands. These groups, linked by their language and culture, also spread west to Madagascar. To this day, over 185 million people in the world share this unique cultural ancestry. They form a family that is spread out across diverse lands, but their cultures share more similarities than differences.

The Austronesian peoples share a proud, rich heritage, and there is strength and new opportunities through cooperation. These people also share similar challenges in the modern world. There are opportunities to find solutions to social problems by sharing past experiences and studying best practices. Sharing ideas and expanding communications can incubate new projects for the future. They may include increased cultural exchange and reciprocal tourism and trade.


The Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program participants will seek opportunities to experience different aspects of indigenous culture in Taiwan to compare with the Maori culture. There will be an exchange of ideas and comparisons of language, music, dance, art, textiles, food, and the facial tattoo culture. A film crew and film students will document what they discover for their film projects to share with audiences in New Zealand and the rest of the world. Their discoveries will build a foundation for future exchanges.

The following are the short-term objectives for the first exchange trip:

  1. Establish contacts and a new channel of communications for exchange between Taiwan and New Zealand.
  2. Develop activities and events to educate participants in Taiwan and allow them to share ideas.
  3. Establish a foundation for the creation and expansion of future Austronesian exchange programs.
  4. Produce documentary films that educate audiences throughout Austronesia.

The following are long-term objectives for the exchange program:

  1. Eventual participation by all Austronesian nations on an annual basis.
  2. Development of tourism and international trade between Austronesian nations.
  3. Media programs developed annually for broadcast in all Austronesian nations.


The Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program participants will take part in the following activities during their visit to Taiwan.

  1. Taiwan Islandwide Tour – The visitors will experience a considerable sampling of what Taiwan has to offer. They will experience the hustle and bustle of the large cities. They will also experience the charm of smaller towns and villages. The visitors will see a diverse range of natural beauty, especially in the Central mountain range and on the East coast. Aside from the indigenous culture, the students will also sample the mainstream Taiwanese culture and know more about what is famous in Taiwan.
  2. Taiwan Indigenous Sites Tour – Time-permitting, the visitors will tour indigenous sites in Taiwan near their host universities. In these locations, students can experience and document more authentic indigenous culture and have a clearer picture of local life. This is an opportunity to develop long-term relationships for future cultural exchange.
  3. Taiwan Prehistory Tour – The National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung will provide the opportunity for the visitors to get a historic and scientific background of the ancient history of Taiwan and its original settlers.
  4. Lectures – Guest speakers in Taiwan and New Zealand will be invited to give lectures on topics related to Indigenous Media. The visitors will be able to share their perspectives on the topics, and local students will be invited.
  5. Development Workshops – The visitors will be invited to meet with University staff, scholars and students to discuss the development of future indigenous media cooperation between New Zealand and Taiwan.
  6. Austronesian Film Festival – Organizers will host the Austronesian Film Festival, showcasing indigenous films from Taiwan, New Zealand and other Austronesian countries. This will be an opportunity for students and locals to learn more about their connection with the international Austronesian community and learn what they share in common.


We have put together a tentative itinerary to give our participants and supporters and idea of what we could provide through this exchange trip.

Click to view our Detailed Itinerary


The nine participants of the first Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program in Taiwan will be from the Maori tribe of New Zealand. Film students from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) were chosen for their ability to tell the story of their culture and to document the culture they discover in Taiwan. They are also able to discuss future cooperation on media projects.

Click to view our Participants


The list of organizers of the Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program is an impressive group of organizations and experienced professionals. The program is led by the ATAYAL organization in the USA and the Austronesian Cultural and Economic Cooperation Association (ACECA) (南島民族文化與經濟合作協會) in Taiwan, with many others supporting the efforts.

Click to view our Organizers


The list of partners in New Zealand and Taiwan participating in the Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program is an impressive group of universities and educational institutions.

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Maori students

Click on the links below to see photos related to the Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program

Click for photos in Taiwan | Click for photos in New Zealand


The Tap Root Cultural Exchange Program organizers have a total budget of US $130,356 (NT 4,041,036). The expenses are based on a group of 14 people traveling in Taiwan from December 3-17, 2013. It also includes the fees for organizing the event, and the production of a video to document the event. These funds will be raised from grants, corporate sponsorships and personal donations. If you would like to make a donation to make a difference, please click here.

Click to view our Budget

The Future

The first exchange program, which unites the proud Maori tribes with their Austronesian cousins in Taiwan, will invite Maori students from New Zealand to tour Taiwan and interact with students and scholars. This first program will serve as a model to develop exchange programs between other Austronesian tribes and the host tribes of Taiwan. The incredible impact of the first exchange program will be documented in a video, which will make it easier to promote future cultural exchange programs and to attract additional funding sources. The future exchanges will invite different Austronesian groups. Each exchange will help to grow a stronger network of ties within the Austronesian family.

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