Suz Jessep's March 2024 CEO Update

I write this update from the Indian state of Gujarat - the fourth largest economy and fifth largest Indian state by geographic size, with a population of roughly 60 million people.

Gujarat has a fascinating history, being one of the centres of the Indus Valley civilization with ancient trade linkages into the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

Walking the streets, you get a taste of this incredible history mixed with the new: modern architecture, huge motorways, a new sustainable city, and eateries everywhere.      

This week, the New Zealand Foreign Minister is leading a delegation to India, followed by Indonesia and Singapore, to explore ways New Zealand can step-up its engagement with these important partners in Asia.

I’ve joined the visit to see how the Foundation can play a role and, in India, to lay the groundwork for some new initiatives (focused on entrepreneurship and young leaders) we’re going to deliver using a new India Fund we’ve just announced.

Suz Jessep and Winston Peters talking to someone in a crowded room

Rt Hon Winston Peters visiting the Foundation's Wellington office in February

On the 27 February, we hosted the Rt Hon Winston Peters at our Wellington office, where he met our board and members of our stakeholder community – young leaders, academics, community representatives, artists, businesspeople and others. 

Speaking at the event, the Minister highlighted the importance he places on the work of the Foundation and on growing and deepening New Zealand-Asia relations. It’s great to now be on the road together, putting these words into action.

Arts report launch

On the 6 March, the Foundation launched a major new piece of research titled New Waves: Meeting the growing hunger for Asian art in Aotearoa. The report shines a light on the growing and vibrant connection between New Zealand and Asia through artistic expression, consumption and design.

A montage of four photos of speakers and the audience from the launch of the New Waves research repor t at the PANNZ Arts Market

The report was launched at an event held at the PANNZ Arts Market in Auckland

For the Foundation, the report provides another means for us to help New Zealanders to deepen their intercultural fluency and to showcase artists whose work is instrumental in bringing New Zealand and Asia closer together.

The report was launch at the  PANNZ (Performing Arts Network of New Zealand) Arts Market in Auckland. At the event, the report's author, Rosabel Tan, convened a panel of artists from Asia to discuss the latest developments in the arts in Asia.

Track II Taiwan

Also in early March, we led a track II delegation to Taiwan where we held our 9th roundtable dialogue with the Prospect Foundation. Our delegation was headed by our trustee, Pulotu Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i, and was supported by a number of leading New Zealand experts.

These visits provide an important avenue for us to share perspectives with thoughtful and senior experts and commentators across Asia. They are conversations that generally sit outside of government (‘track I’), and because of this, often offer new insights and viewpoints that we might not otherwise get. 

Foundation Track II delegate speaking at a roundtable event

Foundation Trustee Pulotu Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i speaking at the Prospect Foundation dialogue

Next year, the Foundation looks forward to hosting its 10th dialogue with Prospect in New Zealand – another major milestone for the Foundation’s Track II programme, and another step in deepening our longstanding relationships with Prospect.

Rethinking Leadership Hui

A group of 17 Leadership Network members and two staff posing for a photo in front of a sculpture of a pink flower

Leadership Network members discussed how to lead impactful social change and hone their leadership skills at last month's Rethinking Leadership Hui

In March, 16 members of our Leadership Network came together in Wellington for their annual Rethinking Leadership Hui.

Facilitated by Dr Suz Wilson from Massey University, the workshop took our network members through a process of understanding how to lead impactful social change and hone their leadership skills.

Leadership Network members play an important role in New Zealand, helping us to grow New Zealanders’ knowledge, confidence and connections in Asia, and leading by example. They’re a fantastic cohort of people!

Festivals shedding light on Asian cultures

Auckland Lantern Festival was held last month for the first time since 2019, and at a new venue: the Manukau Sports Bowl.

A lantern of an old man with a long beard

This year's Auckland Lantern Festival was held at Manukau Sports Bowl

The Foundation was instrumental in establishing the festival over 20 years ago, and while we have taken a step back from the operations side of the event, we continue to provide some funding and support.

A big thanks to our trustee, Carol Cheng, who spoke at the opening, and congratulations to the organisers for what seemed to be a hugely successful event.  

Other festivals we’re supporting this month (to showcase amazing talent from Asia on New Zealand stages) include WOMAD in New Plymouth and Wellington’s CubaDupa at the end of the month.

Thank you

These are some of the highlights of our recent work. A big thanks to the Foundation team for their hard work delivering all of these great outcomes, and to you for your ongoing interest and engagement. It’s greatly appreciated. 

Till next time, ngā mihi and warm regards,

Suzannah Jessep