Simon Draper's
October 2017 update

No doubt everyone's minds are still on last night's political events, so I'm willing to accept my update this month may not be the topic du jour of watercooler conversations. Despite this, I'm happy to say the past month at the Foundation has been an exciting one, topped of by the fantastic Diwali festivities that are happening around the country at the moment.

Diwali Festival of Lights

I attended the Auckland Diwali Festival over the weekend and it was wonderful to see the energy, enthusiasm and excitement of the festival; an event captures the vibrancy of the cultural diversity iof our country. For those of you in Wellington, Labour Day is your turn, so make sure you get along to the TSB Bank Arena on the waterfront for all the music, dancing and delicious food that makes this event so special.

Watch a video of highlight's from Auckland Diwali

It is impressive to see how the Diwali Festival has grown since it began in 2002, with tens of thousands now attending festivities around the country. Events like the Diwali Festival help us all to become more familiar and comfortable with the rich and complex Asian cultures that help make up our national identity.

Over the last few days, the Foundation's education team has been visiting schools in Auckland and Porirua with the international lavani dancers, who we supported to come to New Zealand for Diwali. It was great to see the two-way sharing of cultures - the children enthralled by Indian culture and the group equally enchanted by the waiata, drumming and dancing of the Kiwi students.

To encourage especially young New Zealanders to participate in the celebrations, we launched a social media competition with two return flights to Singapore courtesy of Air New Zealand as prizes. Participants simply need to post, gram or snap photos or videos of their Diwali celebration on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat using the hashtag #DiwaliNZ to be in to win. Details about the competition are available on our website.

I’d like to acknowledge our Director of Culture Jennifer King - the ‘Godmother of the festival’, who will be retiring this month. Jennifer was present from the very start of this festival and has dedicated a huge part of her career in ensuring its success. We wish you the very best in your retirement, Jennifer. 

This year marks the Foundation’s transition from hands-on involvement in the organisation of the festivals to being a founding partner and cash sponsor. Our commitment to the future of the festivals remains as strong as ever.

YBLIs at Social Enterprise World Forum

Leadership Network members in a photo

Members of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership network

As part of the Foundation's ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative (YBLI), we took eight top social entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia to the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) 2017 held in Christchurch. They were an impressive group of young, driven, and tech-savvy achievers who are making a real positive impact in the region.

We first hosted them in Wellington, where they met with the heads of mission from Southeast Asia and then attended an Asia After Five event at which three of them spoke about their social enterprises. From there it was off to the South Island and the Social Enterprise World Forum followed by the Social Enterprise Hui in Akaroa with some of the Foundation's Leadership Network members and New Zealand-based YBLIs.

As I wrote in my Stuff column, hearing these young leaders talk about their respective social enterprises particularly how they are lifting people out of poverty, made me realise social entrepreneurship is an area where New Zealand can perhaps learn from Southeast Asia.

China Track II post visit panel discussion

Last month, I wrote about a track II delegation on trade and economic issues our Chair Hon John Luxton led to China. As a follow-up, I moderated a panel discussion in Auckland last month with our delegation members, all experts in their respective areas. This was an opportunity for the group to convey some of the impressions they had gleaned from their time talking with Chinese colleagues about the state of the economy, trade policy and, of course, the Belt and Road Initiative.

We were pleased with the support we got from the Auckland community for this event, ranging from the business community, NZ Inc officials, academics and media. 

My particular thanks to the Auckland office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and ATEED for hosting us.

Interest in this topic continues to be strong and we’re looking at possibilities for repeating this format and discussion in other centres. 

Indonesia Cultural Connections Trip/Korean Studies Workshop

Line of teachers standing in front of building in Indonesia

Teachers in Indonesia

This month, we took eleven New Zealand educators from across the country to Indonesia for the 2017 Cultural Connections Trip. As part of the trip, the group visited schools in Jakarta and established connections with Indonesian educators. The trip also gave participants the opportunity to establish online connections between their students and the students of their Indonesian counterparts. Among other experiences, the group undertook cultural and historical tours of Jakarta and Yogyakarta and met with New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia Trevor Matheson.

Also this month, nine Kiwi educators travelled to South Korea to take part in the Korean Studies Workshop – a programme we run in collaboration with Australia’s Asia Education Foundation (AEF) and Korea Foundation. Participants met with Korean education leaders, professors at Ewha Women’s University and had a range of experiences that increased their knowledge about the history, culture, government and economy of the country. The group visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), toured a Hyundai factory, visited schools and shared a meal with a local family. They also met with New Zealand Ambassador to Seoul Clare Fearnley.

The Indonesia and Korea trips for educators is part of our education programme, which aims to build educators’ capacity and confidence to teach about Asia.

I wish you all a very Happy Diwali!

Simon Draper