Simon Draper's October 2021 Update

‘Governance’ is one of those words so often used these days that when said it can mean nothing or everything. It is, at its core, one of the key parts of any functioning organisation, hard to get right and easy to get wrong. And, after a number of years of relative stability, the Foundation has undergone some significant governance changes recently.

After some six years guiding the Foundation through a period of reform, programme changes, a budget bid and responding to the challenges of COVID, the Hon John Luxton has retired from leading the board. With the deputy chair Simon Murdoch and board member Raf Manji ending their terms, this means three of the Foundation's eight trustees have changed.

On behalf of the Foundation and its staff, I want to record our great appreciation for the work all three board members have done. It is a role people undertake because they want to contribute to New Zealand and help this country make its way in the world. Their collective knowledge, wisdom and good grace have been immensely helpful to me as the executive director, and I thank them.

At the same time as these three depart, Minister Mahuta has appointed three very capable replacements. Dame Fran Wilde has taken up the chairmanship, bringing with her considerable governance and international experience.

Dame Fran has been a trustee since 2019 and is well versed in the Foundation and what we do. She has a great deal of experience at board level and has had a distinguished career in politics – having served as a cabinet minister and Mayor of Wellington.

This week, Dame Fran has been meeting with programme directors to get to know them, learn about the direction they plan to take their respective programmes and consider ways she can help them achieve their goals.

I look forward to working with her and know the experience and mana she brings to the role will prove invaluable to the Foundation over coming years.

Joining the board are:

Te Poa Karoro (Paul) Morgan, Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa, Ngāpuhi, QSO

Paul is a globally recognised Māori leader and entrepreneur. He is chair of the board of Wakatū Incorporation and a former chief executive of the Federation of Māori Authorities (1996-2007), New Zealand’s largest Māori business network.

Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i

Tupe is chief philanthropic officer of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation and a former diplomat with over 10 years’ experience in the Greater China region. She is the co-founder of a media company that tells Pacific stories through video content and music.

Ziena Jalil

Ziena is a business and public sector leader, and independent director. A strategic advisor and keynote speaker on Asia business, education, and diversity, equity and inclusion; she has held several senior roles representing New Zealand government agencies across Asia, including as Trade Commissioner to Singapore.

The new trustees have strong connections to Asia and proven track records of working in and with the region. Their knowledge and insights will, no doubt, help the Foundation immensely as we navigate these next few months and look to revitalise connections in Asia that have been harder to maintain due to Covid and our inability to travel. I find it reassuring as COVID continues to disrupt much of what we do that the machinery of governance still continues to turn and work for the Foundation.

Finally, I’d like to flag a new piece of important research we are about to release our “South Island business report”, which we will launch with an event in Christchurch on 20 October.

The research provides some fascinating insights into South Island-Asia business interactions, so if you can’t get along to one of our events, make sure you check out the report online when it’s published on the Foundation’s website on October 21.

Following the Christchurch launch, which is fully booked, we will be holding events in Nelson (28 October) and Blenheim (29 October). We are also hoping to hold launch events in Invercargill, Dunedin and Cromwell in November, which we will promote details for closer to the dates.

Noho ora mai Simon Draper