Simon Draper's April Update - 2018

By the time this newsletter goes out, I will be in New Delhi for a Track II (informal diplomacy) dialogue the Foundation is leading in partnership with the New Zealand India Research Institute. This is part of our ongoing efforts to deepen people-to-people connections between our two countries. If you’re interested to find out more, keep an eye on the Foundation’s website in coming weeks for articles about the event written by some of those who took part.

For this month’s update, I thought I would give you a quick overview on the Foundation’s recently updated strategic plan, which we developed to keep pace with our changing operating environment and with our increased focus to engage with young New Zealanders.

The whole team including our board spent time together to develop this important document, which will guide the Foundation’s work over the next few years.

As our Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples research tells us, New Zealanders lack knowledge of and confidence to engage with Asia. New Zealanders also tend to have a transactional approach to their relationship with Asia.  This is where the Foundation wants to, and can, make a difference — in helping address these barriers so New Zealanders can thrive in and with Asia.

The four main goals we identified as being crucial to the success of the Foundation are: deepening connections, growing awareness/knowledge, growing confidence, and organisational performance.

Deepening connections

A dragon lantern in the Avon river for the 2018 Chinese Lantern Festival

As part of our ‘deepening connections’ goal, we want New Zealand’s relationship with Asian countries to model the breadth and depth of our relationship with Australia, Europe and the United States.

As our key outcomes, we want:

  • to see New Zealanders increasingly recognising the importance of Asia not just in terms of trade but also culturally, socially and politically
  • the Leadership Network to grow in influence and connection
  • to see an increasing number of schools develop Asian engagement capability
  • our Track II engagement to be seen as a valuable activity that benefits New Zealand Inc’s engagement with the region
  • support from influencers within the business, government, and political sectors to increase. We also want to connect with Asia-owned businesses in New Zealand.  

Growing awareness/knowledge

Under ‘growing awareness and knowledge’, our goal is to help New Zealanders to be more knowledgeable about Asia. In addition, we want to be recognised as a key part of the Asia-New Zealand relationship ecosystem both within New Zealand and in the Asia-Pacific region.  

As our key outcomes, we want:

  • to connect people across a wide breadth of the Asia-New Zealand relationship
  • to see increased demand from our stakeholders for engagement
  • to increasingly be sought for commentary or to connect with commentators on New Zealand-Asia relationship issues
  • our research to be useful, relevant and authoritative for our stakeholders.

Growing confidence

A group of girls sitting at a table looking at an instructor write Japanese calligraphy

As part of ‘growing confidence’, we want to be seen as a key enabler helping New Zealanders gain confidence in their interactions with Asia.

As our key outcomes, we want:

  • to see increased uptake of Asia working holiday programme opportunities
  • an increase in the number of students learning about Asia and studying Asian languages
  • conversations about New Zealand-Asia relationship to be more informed and common and in part driven by research and outreach
  • a growing pool of entrepreneurs interested and engaged in New Zealand-Asia relationships.

Organisational performance

We know that the Foundation should also be a sustainable organisation, that’s why we identified ‘organisational performance’ as our fourth strategic goal. This means we want to become more relevant to our stakeholders and adapt as their needs change.

As key organisational performance outcomes, we want:

  • our organisation to pick up opportunities and exit areas in response to changing stakeholder needs
  • clear, agreed goals to be set and measured against expenditures
  • stakeholders to be prepared to consider investing more in our activities.

This strategy is a living document and while it will be our guide for the next few years, we expect to periodically revisit it to ensure it remains up to date and relevant.

I’m also pleased to see that the Leadership Network has updated their strategy to align with the Foundation’s and have included ways in which they can assist the Foundation to achieve our goals.

And lastly, I’d like to welcome Wei Shao to the Asia New Zealand Foundation team. Shao will be working as a researcher for the Foundation’s Asia Media Centre while our colleague Rebecca Townsend is away on maternity leave. Shao’s background is in research and journalism. She joined the Foundation after completing her PhD study in media management at the University of Canterbury in early 2018.    

Simon Draper 

26 April 2018