Simon Draper's
June 2018 update


At the start of the month, at the invitation of Singapore Defence Minister and Asia New Zealand Foundation Honorary Adviser Dr Ng Eng Hen, Foundation Chairman Hon John Luxton and I attended the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the foremost security and defence dialogue for the Asia-Pacific.
Man standing in front of podium speaking to a crowd

Indian PM Narendra Modi delivering the keynote address at the opening of Shangri-La Dialogue. (Photo: Ng Eng Hen/Facebook)

As I wrote in an article for the Asia Media Centre, my key takeaway from this year’s dialogue was that people are worried. The international rules that we have relied on are under stress. The questions that arose during the dialogue were: Will they (the rules) break? If they do, what replaces them? Who would write them? And what could it mean for us all? My take on these matters is covered in the article linked to above.

After the Shangri-La Dialogue, I proceeded to Vietnam for Track II talks with the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) and other Vietnamese thinktanks and government organisations.

I joined the Foundation delegation led by our Deputy Chair the Hon Steve Maharey, who has written a piece on the dialogue for the NBR that is to be published shortly.

Trade policy expert Sarah Paterson also joined us, and wrote a  piece for the Asia Media Centre. Both articles reflect the concerns shared by New Zealand and Vietnam around the stresses being placed on the international rules-based order - a hot topic at both the Shangri-La Dialogue and the Vietnam Track II.

The Foundation’s relationship with DAV is now into its tenth year and, as with previous years, this year's dialogue was marked by vigorous and worthwhile discussions.

It was great to have Sarah Pereira join us in Hanoi, to get a NextGen perspective on the issues discussed. She did a series of vlogs from the dialogue, which can be found on our Facebook page. We are invested in growing the genepool of our Track II talent, as one way of seeding interest in Asia-facing international relations and trade issues among younger New Zealanders.

group of adults sitting in the car looking at the camera

Team New Zealand in high spirits on the way to Track II talks

Last week, our Leadership and Entrepreneurship team took 12 Leadership Network members to the Philippines, where they learnt about the political and socio-economic situation of the country and met with Philippine-based members of our ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI).

The Leadership Network members were joined by five Kiwi tech entrepreneurs the Foundation also took to Manila for a tech-focussed visit as part of our YBLI programme. The visit helped inform the group of the accelerating tech scene in the Philippines and meet technology trailblazers from across Southeast Asia through attending such events as Techtonic, the largest tech conference in the region.

Back here in Aotearoa, our YBLI programme brought seven Southeast Asian agri-business entrepreneurs to New Zealand to learn about this country’s agriculture industry and make connections. While they were in the country, the entrepreneurs attended Fieldays in Hamilton – from all accounts an amazing, uniquely Kiwi experience for them all.

At Fieldays they got to see some of this county’s most innovative agricultural products and systems, met with their Kiwi counterparts and participated in the Foundation-led agri-business workshop. A highlight for the group was meeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on one of her last public outings before having her baby.

See some of what the visiting entrepreneurs got up to while in New Zealand

In the media space, TVNZ political reporter Katie Bradford is currently attending East-West Center’s Jefferson Fellowship. The fellowship is a three-week dialogue, study, and travel programme. Each year, the Foundation sponsors a place for a New Zealand journalist.

This year's Fellowship aims to help participating journalists better understand how domestic, regional, and global forces are influencing democratic progress in Southeast Asia and includes travel to Hawaii, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Our involvement in the Jefferson Fellowship programme is part of our commitment to improve the coverage of Asia in the New Zealand media by up-skilling journalists and building their confidence so they can better cover stories coming out of the region.

As part of the fellowship, Bradford attended the East-West Center’s International Media Conference in Singapore. The Foundation also sponsored RNZ’s Colin Peacock and Vice NZ’s Frances Morton to attend that conference.

Farewell and congratulations

After five years with the Foundation, our education director Jeff Johnstone is moving on. Jeff is joining Auckland-based education consultancy Cognition. We thank Jeff for his leadership of the education programme and wish him all the best for his future endeavours; he has become an integral part of the Foundation team and will be missed.

And finally, I’d like to congratulate one of the Foundation’s Honorary Advisers, Mitchell Pham, who was recognised with a Kea award this month. The awards are bestowed upon Kiwis whose inspiring achievements are defining New Zealand's image internationally. It’s a great honour to have such a highly respected individual as Mitchell as part of the team.

And that's it from me for June. It's hard to believe we're already half way through the year, but when I look back on all the activities the Foundation has supported or been involved in, it seems we've squeezed a lot in to a reasonably short period.

Simon Draper