Executive Director's November 2023 Update

It’s been a week of composed upheaval for our team in Auckland as we moved our office from 205 Queen Street down the road to Level 7, 45 Queen Street. Just a stone’s throw from Britomart, the new location is more spacious, brighter and away from the noise of the City Rail Link construction that has been a feature of the old office the last couple of years.
Two women smiling at each other as a man and woman hongi in the background

Members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei provided a blessing for the office opening

I’d like to thank members of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei who joined staff, board members and friends of the Foundation on Monday for the official opening and led the karakia whakanoa (blessing).

We hope to see you at Foundation events at the office in the not-too-distant future.

Staying in Auckland, last week we held an induction for the latest cohort of Leadership Network members. The event provided new members with a chance to get to know each other and learn about what being part of the network is all about.

The day began with a mihi whakatau led by network members Rāniera Kaio with Clark Tipene responding on behalf of the new members. It included opportunities for inductees to network, hear from established members and discuss the Foundation and its work.

As always, this year’s new members are an incredible bunch of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, each bringing something unique to the network. I got the opportunity to speak one on one with a number of them at the induction and really look forward to getting to know them better over coming months as they embark on their journey as network members.

For those of you not acquainted with the Foundation’s Leadership Network, it is an established global group of young professionals committed to building New Zealand-Asia relations. The network was formed in 2006 and now numbers over 450 members.

Groups of Leadership Network members sitting at tables chatting

Leadership network members new and old came together in Auckland for the induction

In the Track II space, the Foundation’s chair Dame Fran Wilde and director research and engagement Suzannah Jessep led delegations to Vietnam and Japan, where they met with think tanks, government officials, civil society, diplomats and other leading experts and academics.  

The Vietnam leg of the visit was anchored around the Foundation’s 14th dialogue with the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam – one of the leading think tanks in Southeast Asia. Discussions focused on regional security issues, major power dynamics, climate change and the evolution of Vietnam-New Zealand bilateral relations. From Vietnam, Dame Fran and Suz travelled to Tokyo for further roundtable talks. Topics for discussion included maritime security, regional engagement in the Pacific and cyber security.

Our Track II diplomacy programme is an important part of the Foundation’s mahi, providing a space for New Zealand to contribute to discussions on regional issues with our dialogue partners in Asia. It’s diplomacy between countries but without the encumbrances of more formal Track I diplomacy held at governmental level. Track II dialogues are marked by free and frank conversations that foster mutual understanding on topics of shared interest between New Zealand and partner nations.

I’d like to extend my thanks to the New Zealand delegates who joined Dame Fran and Suz, Japan Honorary Adviser Amane Nakashima and the New Zealand embassies in Hanoi and Tokyo who provided tremendous support for the visit.

Dame Fran Wilde passing her card across a table to a japanese Track II participant

Dame Fran Wilde and Professor Kazunaga Yazawa of Waseda University

Finally, for those of you in Wellington on 21 November, I encourage you to come along to our office for the final Asia After Five of the year.

Asia After Five events are an opportunity for us to reach out to our community and provide them with a chance to hear from speakers about topics in the Asia-New Zealand space.

This month, we have Stuff journalist Shannon Redstall presenting about her experiences reporting from South Korea earlier this year.

Supported by a Foundation media travel grant, Redstall covered events marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. I’m sure it’s going to be a fascinating talk and I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Nga mihi nui,

Adele Mason