Simon Draper's December 2021 Update

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete ki a koutou. Here we are, at the end of another tumultuous year. It’s been an especially difficult one for our friends and colleagues in Auckland, so I’d like to begin by saying thanks to everyone living there for doing the hard mahi to keep the rest of the country safe.

It has been a year of challenges, plan Bs, contingencies and learning to roll with the punches – all things we have become adept at after close to two years of Covid-19.

Watch a slideshow of images showing some of the Foundation's activities in 2021

While Covid curtailed a few projects and activities the Foundation would have liked to have implemented this year, I am pleased with how much we managed to achieve.

To name just a few:

  • Early this year, we held a reunion in Auckland to bring together those who have been through our business internships programme. It was great to meet both the latest cohort fresh from undertaking their online internships, as well those who undertook internships in years past. I really enjoyed hearing how the internship experiences have influenced, and continue to influence, their careers. Between now and the end of summer, 15 students and recent graduates will undertake online and domestic internships as part of this year’s programme.
  • Over the duration of the Tokyo Olympics, our sports and education teams put together a programme of activities that brought Japanese culture to The Cloud Fanzone on the Auckland waterfront. In the video below, you can see how this activation captured the imaginations of the young fans who visited The Cloud.
  • In the research space, we launched our latest Perceptions of Asia report as well as Te Waipounamu and Asia - research looking at the business links between the South Island and Asia.
  • We published the works of our inaugural IN TOUCH Arts Commissions – a series of digital artworks by grantees the Foundation has previously supported (we are currently calling for proposals for next year’s round).
  • Our education team inducted the first 25 educators of its Champions programme – a professional initiative for educators to build their Asia knowledge and act as role models to ensure Asia competencies are valued in the New Zealand schools.

And, of course, we had numerous online events, including Track II discussions, Leadership Network hui, education workshops and business discussions.

Meanwhile, the Asia Media Centre has continued to shine a light on Asia so New Zealand media can look beyond the headline-grabbing stories and get a more nuanced picture of what’s going on in the region.

Get a taste of the Foundation's Olympic Fanzone activation at the Cloud on Auckland's waterfront

On a sad note, we said goodbye to one of the Foundation’s pillars with the death of our former Chair, John Luxton. John took up the chairmanship of the board in 2015, stepping down earlier this year to focus on his health. John was an integral part of the Foundation team and will be deeply missed.

We are lucky to have Dame Fran Wilde taking up the role of Board Chair and have welcomed in new trustees Te Poa Karoro (Paul) Morgan, Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i and Ziena Jalil.

If you have been at events at which I have spoken this year, it is likely you have heard me emphasise that during these times when in-person connections are harder to maintain, it is more important than ever to ensure relationships are not allowed to atrophy.

With countries turning inward and focusing on domestic issues, it would be easy to neglect international relationships, but New Zealand would do so at our loss. As a small country, not always top of mind internationally, it is beholden upon us to take the initiative and keep ourselves in the picture. This is what the Foundation has been doing throughout 2021 and will continue to do next year.

On that note, I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and happy New Year. I think we all deserve a well-earned break.

Noho ora mai

Simon Draper