Simon Draper's November 2022 Update

The annual “Asia summit season” has, at least briefly, heightened New Zealand media coverage of Asia in recent weeks, with Prime Minister Ardern attending the East Asia Summit in Cambodia and APEC in Thailand, with a visit to Viet Nam with a business delegation sandwiched in between.
Prime Minister Ardern and the New Zealand delegation listening to a man speak

In Vietnam, the delegation discussed trade opportunities with business leaders and politicians. The two countries are targetting $2 billion in two-way trade each year by 2024

There have been plenty of significant topics on the agenda at these summits — the war in Ukraine, North Korea’s missile tests, Myanmar, climate change and China-Taiwan relations, to name a few. All of these could/will impact New Zealand in some way and is a reminder of New Zealand’s need to keep engaging closely with countries in Asia and nurturing its relationships at all levels.

It was helpful to be part of the business delegation accompanying the Prime Minister to Viet Nam, a visit that highlighted the potential for New Zealand to grow its relationship with that country. It was a joy to catch up in person after the last few years of zooming with our Vietnamese Honorary Adviser Ms Pham Thi My Le and with our New Zealand Honorary Adviser Warrick Cleine, who is chairman and CEO of KPMG in Vietnam and Cambodia. Warrick spoke to the business delegation about how the demographics, economics and geopolitics are lining up to make the next decade a potential golden one for Viet Nam.

It was particularly enjoyable to connect with Vietnamese alumni of the Young Business Leaders Initiative at a lunch hosted by the Foundation and Prime Minister Ardern. The Asia New Zealand Foundation has delivered the Young Business Leaders Initiative for the New Zealand Government for more than a decade as a way of strengthening ties with Southeast Asia. And we were also pleased to see a New Zealand alumnus of that initiative, Boring Oat Milk founder Morgan Maw, included in the delegation.

The trip was also an opportunity to showcase our report, Viet Nam and New Zealand: Let’s go!, which showcases Vietnam’s dynamism and its growing connections with New Zealand through a range of avenues, including tourism and international education.

A long table with Foundation staff and board members on one side and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and MPs on the other

The Foundation briefing Prime Minister Ardern, Ministers and CEOs of key government agencies about Seriously Asia Revisited

The Foundation passed an important milestone in its Seriously Asia Revisited project this week, providing a briefing to Prime Minister Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers and CEOs of key government agencies on the outcomes of our discussions with 120 New Zealanders over the course of the year. We were pleased to have the opportunity to share the findings kanohi ki te kanohi (in person) and to hear their perspectives on how to best position New Zealand for its future relationships with Asia.

We will be briefing other MPs over the next month, ahead of a public launch in early 2023. You can read more about the project here

Recent weeks have seen renewed activity in our media travel grants programme, with several journalists travelling to Asia with funding support from the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The media programme is one of the Foundation’s oldest and enables New Zealand journalists to undertake independent reporting in the region in the absence of any dedicated foreign correspondents based there.

We know that the media is one of the key ways New Zealanders gain knowledge and understanding of Asia, so exposing audiences to some of the key developments in the region is an important investment for us. New Zealand coverage of the region demonstrates that what happens in Asia has relevance and impact for New Zealand.

Cushla Norman standing on a large rainbow flag painted on the pavement with Taipei written across it

Cushla covered a number of stories from Taiwan, from China's 20th Party Congress to New Zealand-born drag queen Taipei Popcorn

Of prominence was the reporting by Cushla Norman (1 News) from Taiwan, who brought New Zealand-produced news coverage from Asia to New Zealand television screens for the first time in several years. You can read Cushla's account of the trip here. Our funding also supported Oliver Lewis of BusinessDesk to travel to Singapore and Dileepa Fonseka from Stuff to travel to Sri Lanka, among other projects.

Looking ahead, we’re preparing to send New Zealand students and graduates to internships in Asia for the first time since the 2019-2020 summer, a turning point as we look ahead to more offshore activity across all our programmes in 2023. We’ll look forward to telling you more about these interns and their placements in our next newsletter.

We’re also looking forward to unveiling some new research on New Zealand’s sporting links with Asia, the Rising Impact of Asia on New Zealand Sport. Check out our website next week to read this new publication.

Hei konā mai,

Simon Draper