Strengthening cultural links

24 Jul, 2020
International Mask Festival
International Mask Festival

Lester Finch, Director of AUT’s Indonesia Centre was invited by the Indonesian Government to speak at the Indonesian Mask Festival last month.

The International Mask Festival invited representatives from around the world, including from France, US, Singapore and New Zealand to share about the use of masks in their culture. In Indonesian culture, there is a strong history of mask wearing in cultural festivals to connect spiritually with ancestors. Lester however, was asked to speak about the non-wearing of masks in New Zealand, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“They wanted New Zealand to participate in the conference due to the relative success of our strategy in dealing with the virus. The wearing of masks for safety purposes wasn’t taken on widely in NZ so there was quite a lot of interest in that aspect.”

Lester says this was a positive step towards strengthening New Zealand’s relationship with Indonesia and participating in the conference put our country and AUT on the map. “AUT is the only place in the world where the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture has established an Indonesian Centre. Indonesia has the fourth largest population in the world and we are very proud to be at the forefront of forging greater trading and cultural links with Indonesia.”

The AUT Indonesia Centre was established in August 2017 and is designed to promote Indonesia in New Zealand and strengthen relations between the two countries. The Centre hosts a number of exchange students and it also includes a physical space which houses a full royal Javan Gamelan orchestra. Every Wednesday there is a Gamelan practice and students, staff and members of the community are welcome to come along and join the group.

For more information about the AUT Indonesia Centre, or to find out about the Gamelan orchestra, you can contact

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