Simon Draper's
January 2018 update

I hope you had a good break and enjoyed a bit of sunshine (for readers in New Zealand). Holidays are always too short, but since there is no stopping the New Year, we need to get back down to business.

For my first update, I thought I would give you a quick overview of our main activities in the coming months.

Honorary Advisers meeting

We’re well into planning our Honorary Advisers meeting in March, which only happens every two years. The session, in Auckland, brings together our advisers from New Zealand and Asia.

Our honorary advisers are influential leaders in their respective fields who provide advice and knowledge to the Foundation. It’s a privilege for us to be associated with them and we are most grateful for their ongoing support of the Foundation’s work.

I look forward to hearing their thoughts around how the Foundation can better fulfil our mandate to help New Zealanders to thrive in Asia.

Track II

Also in March, the Foundation is leading a delegation to roundtable discussions with representatives from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and China at the Mekong Institute in Kohn Kaen, Thailand.

Outside of the roundtable programme, we will work closely with our embassy in Bangkok to put together a programme to meet with other experts and officials for a deep dive into New Zealand’s relationships in the region.

In April, I’ll be leading a delegation to New Delhi for a dialogue with our think tank partner the Indian Council of World Affairs as well as other organisations that will help bolster our understanding of regional relations.

Leadership Network 2018 intake

In coming weeks, we will open applications for the 2018 intake of our Leadership Network – the global network of talented, young professionals who are at the forefront of building strong connections between New Zealand and Asia. 

YBLI visit to Thailand

As part of our Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI) we’re taking five young Kiwi entrepreneurs and business leaders in the fashion industry to Thailand for a bespoke programme that will help them connect with fashion sector leaders from Thailand and the region.  The group will also attend the prestigious Bangkok International Fashion Week.

Lantern Festivals

Performer on stage at lantern festival

In March, we will continue to support the Lantern Festivals in Auckland and in Christchurch as a founding sponsor and partner. Similar to previous years, we are bringing visiting festival performers to various schools in the country for our outreach programme. As part of the celebrations, we will launch a social media campaign to engage young New Zealanders.

Postgraduate research applications

Also next month, we will be accepting applications for our annual post graduate research grants. These grants increase the body of knowledge on topics relevant to Asia and New Zealand. We also want to use this to identify talented students who might be suitable to participate in our Track II diplomacy programme (see information on postgraduate research grants).

Perceptions of Asia

During the first half of the year, we’ll also release our 2017 Perceptions of Asia research findings. First carried out in 1997, this annual report is based on a survey that looks at New Zealanders’ perceptions of Asia and Asian peoples and culture. For this latest 20th anniversary iteration, we worked with our partner Colmar Brunton to double the sample size and changed its methodology from phone interviews to an online survey.

I look forward to seeing the results and using the findings to inform our work here at the Foundation.

Japan Sports Forum

Finally, in May we are taking a group of physical education teachers to Japan as part of the Japan Sports Forum. This Forum is a new initiative of the Foundation to help New Zealanders understand Asia through the lens of sports.

These are just samplers of the things we will be working on. With all these activities lined up in next few months, no doubt 2018 promises to be another exciting year. 

Simon Draper