13 April 2021 at 11:44 am

Lifeswap premiere celebrates friendship between New Zealand and Germany

Over 500 people attended the recent Lifeswap premiere at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre, hosted by Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) in association with the German Embassy.

LIFESWAP Premiere TW 161
ENZ Chief Advisor Māori, Ed Tuari, with Lifeswap co-creator William Connor.

The final two episodes of the cult-hit webseries Lifeswap, ‘Laughing Matters’ and ‘Die Brücke’, concluded the animated adventures of Duncan and Jörg – the German and Kiwi friends who helped one another understand a new culture.

‘Laughing Matters’ tells the story of Jörg, who had an excellent experience in New Zealand, and (due to his preparedness for the future) was accepted into one of New Zealand’s most innovative and technologically advanced companies ‘Rockets R Us’.

The episodes were commissioned by ENZ and the Germany Embassy respectively.

Watch the Lifeswap creators, ENZ-ers, and our stakeholders talk about the series and the NZ-Germany relationship at the premiere.

“We were very fortunate to be able to celebrate Lifeswap with its creators Steffen Kreft – who was himself an international student at Massey University in Wellington – and William Connor, and their many fans at a live event at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre,” ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson said.

“After a year of restricted international travel and very few in-person events, it was a reminder that global education connection and cooperation has not stopped.

“The Lifeswap series highlights how the longstanding friendship between New Zealand and Germany transcends the situation we find ourselves in. It is a very powerful example of international education relationships keeping New Zealand globally connected while travel is limited.” 

Following the launch of Laughing Matters – which built on the success of the first joint ENZ Lifeswap episode Group Effort in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a cameo appearance – the partnership is also being shared with key partners and audiences in Germany as part of ENZ's Americas, Middle East and Europe Education Week.

To leverage the popularity of the new episode and the wealth of the important topics it deals with, ENZ is working with a PR agency in Germany to tell this positive story more widely.

The PR engagement will involve a mix of approaches, including traditional media, social media and partnering with influencers, to ensure we reach a wide audience on all relevant channels.

ENZ General Manager – International, Lisa Futschekworked with Kreft and Connor for months on ‘Laughing Matters’.

“It’s a great fit for Education New Zealand to be working with such creative people who are telling a fantastic story about the friendship between New Zealand and Germany.”

Also in attendance was the German Ambassador to New Zealand, his Excellency Stefan Krawielicki.

In his speech to the audience, the Ambassador noted how the humour of Lifeswap allows New Zealanders and Germans to laugh at themselves, and understand our differences.

“It’s such an enriching experience for young people to go to New Zealand – or for young people to go to Germany – and learn about different approaches and shared values,” he said.

“Education is a bridge builder and makes young people [become] lifelong ambassadors.”

Lifeswap dates back to 2013, when creators and partners Kreft and Connor began to work together, pooling their considerable skills in language, animation, and cultural competency.

The pair said at the premiere that while they’re sad to leave Duncan and Jörg behind, their story is complete.

“It’s probably a little bit like what parents feel like when their kids are going to study overseas,” Kreft says.

Watch the complete Lifeswap series on YouTube or Vimeo.

What's in it for me?