Simon Draper's April 2021 Update

One of the highlights for me from the past month was connecting with some 50 young people who have been through our business internship programme at a reunion in Auckland.

Attending the reunion were some of the first interns we took to Asia soon after the programme was established in 2009, as well as this year’s cohort who did their internships online due to Covid.

Watch a video to get a snapshot of the day

It was a fantastic opportunity for former interns to get together, share their experiences and reconnect with the Foundation.

The skills and knowledge they gained (both inside and outside the workplace) through interning in Asia have seen many of them go on to establish careers in or with the region and it was motivating, for me and I’m sure for some of the more recent interns, to hear how the internship experience has changed lives and advanced careers.

I’d like to say a special thanks to former Air New Zealand boss Rob Fyfe and former government minister Simon Power, both of whom spoke at the event, as well as the board members and Leadership Network members who helped out.

SS Ventnor memorial unveiling highlights connections

Earlier this month, a few Foundation whānau (including  DrJames To, Alistair Crozier and Leadership Network member Ben Matthews) joined members of the New Zealand Chinese community, local iwi, and political leaders in Opononi to bless a memorial dedicated to 499 Chinese whose remains were lost, together with 13 crew, when the SS Ventnor went down off the Hokianga Heads in 1902.

People standing outside lighting incense

Simon: "It’s a fascinating story that shines light on the role of ancestry, heritage and traditions in both Te Ao Māori and Chinese contexts..."

It’s a fascinating story that shines light on the role of ancestry, heritage and traditions in both Te Ao Māori and Chinese contexts and illuminates longstanding, but perhaps overlooked, connections between tangata whenua and New Zealand's Chinese community, which is why I thought it important to have a strong Foundation presence at the unveiling.

Our senior research adviser, James To, has written an article about the event for the Asia Media Centre, which you can read here.

Sister Cities partnerships

Last week I facilitated a discussion between mayors about taking a strategic approach to their Sister Cities relationships at the 2021 Sister Cities (soon to be Global Cities) Conference in Wellington.

The world has changed a lot in the 40 years since New Zealand’s first Sister Cities relationship was established and these connections, especially with Asia, are more important now than ever. 

A traditional-style Chinese building at Dunedin's Chinese Gardens

A traditional-style Chinese building at Dunedin's Chinese Gardens. Dunedin has a Sister City relationship with Shanghai

With borders closed, Sister City relationships have been harder to maintain, so it was interesting to hear from some of the mayors about the ways they have kept in touch with their Sister Cities partners. However, as I said to the mayors, once borders re-open, re-establishing face-to-face connections will be paramount, as despite the utility of the likes of Zoom, nothing beats meeting in person to make meaningful relationships.

Dunedin engagement

We’ve had a fair bit going on in Dunedin recently. On Monday I was there with the Foundation’s director research and engagement Suzannah Jessep to speak to students studying foreign policy, and next month our Leadership Network is holding a hui there looking at the history of Chinese people in Otago.

For those of you in Dunedin at the moment, make sure you take in some of the Dunedin Arts Festival, which is running until 25 April. The Foundation was pleased to support Leadership Network member Alice Canton’s performance of OTHER [Chinese], a work Alice first workshopped at the 2017 Lantern Festival.  

The work will be next performed in Christchurch at Court Theatre in September.

Until next month, nga mihi

Simon Draper