Simon Draper's September 2022 Update

It is always a reflective time when someone who has been a seemingly permanent fixture in your life passes on. For many New Zealanders the Queen in Right of New Zealand was such a permanence. She has been a constant in our lives, and gives us cause to reflect on our own sense of public service.
Jacob Rajan talking to a group of people in a theatre space

Jacob Rajan (far left) talking to the Foundation group

As part of the Foundations desire to reconnect kanohi ki te kanohi, I was in Ōtautahi Christchurch twice this month, firstly to attend the final performance in the city of Krishna’s Dairy, and for a second time for the Foundation’s trade, tourism and investment ‘Seriously Asia Revisited’ hui.

This year marks the 25th year since Krishnan’s dairy creator and sole performer Jacob Rajan first stepped onto the stage to perform his now iconic play. It will also be his last, as he has decided to retire the characters that have earned him so many accolades over the years. The Foundation supported Jacob way back in 1998 to get the first production off the ground, so it seems fitting that we once again sponsored the play for its final tour.

The Christchurch performance was the first time I have seen Krishnan’s Dairy – surely putting me in the minority of New Zealanders, at least theatre-going New Zealanders. We were able to host recently appointed Foundation Honorary Advisor Lianne Dalziel, Trustee Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i and a group of the Foundation’s most recent business interns to attend the performance.

Krishnan’s Dairy is a real tour de force on the part of Jacob and like all great art seems as relevant in 2022 as it did when first launched some two decades ago. The very last performance of Kirishnan’s Dairy is today (21 September) at at Soundings Theatre, Te Papa today.

A conference room with people sitting at tables in a large circle

Simon Draper: "Considering those in the room, it was no surprise that discussions were insightful and varied..."

Christchurch was also the location of our most recent Seriously Asia Revisited hui – the third of four scheduled hui the Foundation is holding around the country. The roundtables bring together a wide range of informed voices on Asia-New Zealand relations to discuss how we can all best develop meaningful, successful relationships across Asia.

The Christchurch hui was focused on trade, tourism and investment – sectors that have seen rapid growth in recent years, but also sectors that are undergoing challenging times that demand New Zealand be purposeful in how it engages with the region.

Considering those in the room, it was no surprise that discussions were insightful and varied, ranging from the erosion of the rules-based order that small countries the likes of New Zealand have relied so heavily on, to the increasing leadership role Māori are playing in the New Zealand-Asia business space.

The next, and final, Seriously Asia Revisited hui is to be held in Queenstown at the end of this month and will focus on innovation and sustainable development.

Simon Draper reading from notes with a map of Asia projected on a screen behind him

The Christchurch hui covered a range of issues and opportunities facing the New Zealand business community when engaging with Asia

While on the topic of Christchurch activities, I’ll make a quick note about two Asia After Five events we are holding in the city in coming weeks. First up will be a deep-dive into our latest Perceptions of Asia findings hosted by our senior research adviser Jordan King on 22 September. This will be followed by Asia on Ice (Oct 3), which will provide Asian perspectives on Antarctica and Antarctic issues from the likes of academics, scientists and tourism operators who have visited the continent.

To wrap up, I’d like to make mention of last week being Te Wiki o te reo Māori and this week being Chinese language week. At the Foundation, we marked Māori language week with lunchtime games that tested our te reo knowledge as well as pepeha practice, brushing up on skills we learnt earlier in the year during the intensive te reo courses most staff undertook. And this week, keep an eye on the Foundation’s social media pages for Chinese language themed posts and activities.

With Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori and Chinese Language Week in mind, I’ll sign off by saying Noho ora mai and zhàogù zìjǐ (照顾自己)

Simon Draper