Simon Draper's December Update

It’s hard to believe another year is almost over. Looking back over the activities the Foundation has delivered or supported, and people and organisations we have been involved with, it amazes me how much we’ve packed in. Thanks to all of you who have supported our work. Check out the slideshow below for some of our standout highlights of 2018 (you may even spot yourself).

Watch a slideshow of images showing some of the activities the Foundation has held or supported in 2018

This update comes to you from Taipei, where I am leading a Track II (informal diplomacy) delegation for talks with the Foundation’s long-standing dialogue partner, the Prospect Foundation. It’s an interesting time to be in Taiwan, just weeks after mid-term local elections were held across the island.

We’ve been hearing from Taiwanese counterparts about their perspectives on foreign and trade policy issues, and exchanging thoughts on how New Zealand and Taiwan are responding to regional developments.

Thinking Careers, Think Asia

We’ve just launched a survey of young New Zealanders to gauge to what extent they are receiving Asia-related careers advice, and from whom. It makes for sobering reading. Given Asia’s growing importance to New Zealand, employers are increasingly looking for staff with Asia-related skills. However, the data shows us that young people are not getting the information they need; in fact, 65 percent of respondents said they hadn’t received any Asia-related study or career advice.

Now that we have a better understanding of Asia-focused careers advice received by young people, we have an opportunity to refine our own work. We’ve begun talking to careers advisers about the opportunities we offer and why these are relevant to their students. For instance, our education programme staff attended the CATE (Careers & Transition Education) conference in November, which provided an opportunity to hear the views of careers advisers. It’s an important space, and one we are looking to be more engaged in 2019.

Language learning in schools – fits the bill

On the subject of education, I’d also like to touch upon the Education (Strengthening Second Language Learning in Primary and Intermediate Schools) Amendment Bill that has been put forward by former education minister Nikki Kaye. We learned this week that she has won the support from Labour, the Greens and Act to progress this bill to select committee.

We know from our own Perceptions of Asia research that there is high support for language learning amongst the New Zealand public. We believe this bill will give New Zealand a valuable opportunity to have a conversation about language learning and to make deliberate choices about this important topic.

Leadership Network’s South India Hui

The backs of people riding bikes along a dirt road

A cycle tour of Srirangapatnam Island near Mysuru was one of the highlights of the tour

In November, 16 of our Leadership Network members spent five packed days in Bengaluru and Mysuru on the South India Hui, learning about India first hand and developing their leadership skills.

I’d like to express particular gratitude to New Zealand High Commissioner Joanna Kempkers, who travelled from Delhi, as well as Trade Commissioner and Consul General Ralph Hays and NZTE senior business development manager Sreedhar Venkatram who came from Mumbai. Having such knowledgeable people share their insights with the group added real value to the experience.

You can read more about the hui here, and we will be publishing articles written by some of the Leadership Network members in coming weeks.

Business interns head to Asia

With the end of the academic year, our 2018/19 business interns are heading to Asia to start summer internships. I spoke to this year’s cohort as part of a pre-departure briefing for what will no doubt be one of the most rewarding and character-building experiences of their lives. I was greatly impressed by the calibre of young talent in the room and look forward to seeing how their experiences in workplaces across Asia enhance their careers. Our internship programme continues to grow – from 19 internships last year, to an expected 25 to 30 interns heading to companies in Asia in the 2018-19 calendar year.

Māori tech entrepreneurs explore opportunities in Vietnam

A line up of three men and a woman

We recently partnered with Kōkiri, the Hamilton-based business accelerator for Māori start-ups, and the Southeast Asia CAPE, to take five tech entrepreneurs to Vietnam. They learnt more about the fast-growing Vietnamese tech scene, built contacts with leading Vietnamese entrepreneurs and explored opportunities to do business. We were fortunate to also have Foundation Honorary Adviser Mitchell Pham in Vietnam at the same time, passing on his extensive knowledge of the tech scene there and across Asia.

Māori enterprises are estimated to be worth about $40 billion, and although most of this is in primary industries, we are increasingly seeing Māori entrepreneurs succeeding in other sectors. Keep an eye on our website in upcoming weeks to learn more about their experiences.

Welcome to our sports adviser

Finally, I’d like to welcome aboard Kirsty Sharp, who will be implementing our newly established sports programme. As we approach the 2020 Olympics and 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, as well as other major sporting events in the region, it’s an opportune time for the Foundation to maximise the opportunities for New Zealanders to gain more knowledge about the region. We believe that the “language of sport”, which many New Zealanders feel comfortable with, is an important way to build New Zealanders’ confidence with Asia.

I hope you have a fantastic festive season and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible next year.

 Simon Draper