Wanwan Liao’s story

“I felt like I had a superpower with my Hakka. It meant that I had a special language that others couldn’t understand.”

Wanwan Liao talks about her relationship with Hakka, Mandarin, and Taiwanese Hokkien.

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Illustrator’s process and reflections

Choosing to tell Wanwan’s story came naturally for me: we were both Taiwanese, both Newtown residents, and her passion for bilingualism in the classroom was fascinating to encounter.

We bonded over our connection with Hakka/Mandarin, racism in schooling systems, diasporic guilt, and our fading mother tongues. As much as I helped bring Wanwan’s story to life in pictures, her passion, commitment, and vision was also a source of inner healing for me.

I have hope for future migrant and bilingual children in Aotearoa, knowing that there are mentors like Wanwan leading the way.

Ronia Ibrahim