Simon Draper's August 2022 Update

It’s been a busy month since my last Executive Director’s Update, with Seriously Asia Revisited (SAR) hui in Auckland and Wellington, an Honorary Advisers meeting, business and Track II engagements and more.


Leadership Network Advisory Board member Arina Aizal addressing the room at the Seriously Asia Revisited hui in Auckland

In Wellington on Friday, we held the second of our Seriously Asia Revisited hui, which brought together experts in New Zealand–Asia relations to discuss how this country can best develop its connections with the region through a politics and security lens. The first of the four scheduled SAR hui was held in Auckland on 29 July with a focus on society and culture.

The hui are part of a programme of work we are undertaking to help form a roadmap for New Zealand’s engagement with Asia, building on work we conducted in 2003.

The society and culture roundtable generated a lot of interesting and challenging conversations, at the heart of which was that for New Zealand to make the most of our relationships with Asia we must look beyond a mercantilist view of the region and develop deeper connections, with cultural understanding and people at its core.

A theme that came through particularly strongly at the politics and security hui was the need for New Zealand to develop a cohesive, unified vision for how we interact with Asia, a vision that extends beyond party lines and election cycles. It was brought up more than once that how New Zealand chooses to position itself - as a Western, Pacific or Asia-Pacific nation - will greatly impact how Asian nations view and interact with us.

This is important work for the Foundation and New Zealand to get right and it was encouraging to see the calibre of those who attended the hui to date and the depth of the conversations that were had.

The next hui are scheduled for September in the South Island and will focus on trade, tourism and investment (Christchurch) and innovation and sustainable development (Queenstown). More about those hui in next month’s update.

Foundation farewells Honorary Advisers

Simon Draper chatting to someone in a busy rom of people

Simon: "I’d like to acknowledge the work and support the outgoing Honorary Advisers have contributed over the years to support the Foundation's mahi."

At the recent Honorary Advisers meeting in Auckland, we said goodbye to outgoing advisers Peter Chin, Trish Carter, Allan Bollard, Dr Farib Sos, Richard Long, Hon Simon Power and Ian Kennedy.

The meeting was held at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, where those attending got to take in Yona Lee's An Arrangement for 5 Rooms, an exhibition the Foundation supported through our Arts Project Fund.

Our Honorary Advisers are individuals who hold key positions in business, academia, community and other sectors and provide the Foundation with insights and advice, and advocate on our behalf.

Peter Chin addressing the room at the recent meeting for Honorary Advisers in Auckland

Speaking at the event, Peter Chin spoke about how far the Foundation has come since he was appointed to the board in 2010, noting that as an organisation we are now much more representative of New Zealand society and as such can better reflect the thoughts and opinions of an increasingly diverse country.

I’d like to acknowledge the work and support the outgoing Honorary Advisers have contributed over the years to support the Foundation's mahi. Their contributions have been invaluable and hugely appreciated.

Champion teachers come together to talk shop in Tauranga

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting with six of the Foundation’s Bay of Plenty and Waikato-based education Champions in Tauranga. Our education Champions are leading educators who we support to act as amplifiers and role models, ensuring knowledge and understanding of Asia is valued in New Zealand schools.

Due to disruptions caused by Covid, this was the first time we have brought together a group of Champions since the inaugural Champions induction held last year. The education team have three more regional hui scheduled over coming weeks.

Dr Andrew Butcher talking to the teachers in front of a projector screen with an image from Squid Games on it

Dr Andrew Butcher talking to the Foundation Champions in Tauranga

The hui provided the education team an opportunity to brief the teachers on some of the work the Foundation has been doing and hear from them about the successes and challenges they face bringing Asia into the curriculum. It was also a platform for them to put forward their ideas for progressing the Champion's programme going forward.

It was inspiring to be around such passionate educators who are continuously striving to find new ways to prepare their students for the future – one in which Asia will play an ever increasingly important role.

Other notable events we've held or taken part in over the past month include a roundtable at the Foundation's Wellington office with Minister of Defence Peeni Henare. At the meeting we discussed New Zealand-Pacific relations and reflected on the recent security summit in Singapore, the Shangra-La Dialogue, which Minister Henare attended alongside the Foundation's Chair Dame Fran Wilde and director research and engagement Suzannah Jessep.

The Wellington roundtable was an insightful exchange during a time of increasing uncertainty in the region and was particularly relevant in the lead up to our Seriously Asia hui in Wellington, with its focus on politics and security.

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare addressing a roundtable at the Wellington office

Minister of Defence Hon Peeni Henare attended a roundtable at the Foundation's Wellington office to discuss security issues and the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore

On the business front, but still with an eye to politics and security, at the beginning of August I was on a panel at the China Business Summit in Auckland, alongside Asia New Zealand Foundation board member Chris Seed, former Foundation executive director John McKinnon and former PM Helen Clark. The Foundation also sponsored the China Business Summit's keynote speaker Allan Gyngell, the National President of the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

My key takeaway from the summit was that the government and the business community need work together to strengthen the relationship with China while mitigating some of the vulnerabilities this country has by being so heavily reliant on one trading partner – a trading partner that has shown a willingness in the past to flex its muscles through trade avenues.

I hope August is treating you well and the rain that has been falling over much of the country has spared you.

Ngā mihi nui,

Simon Draper