Youth take the lead on
New Zealand-Asia relations

Twenty-five young people who represent the future of the Asia-New Zealand relationship have been acknowledged as ‘ones to watch’, by the Asia New Zealand Foundation Te Whītau Tūhono.
The 25 to Watch in the old debating chamber at Parliament

The 25 to Watch recipients with executive director Simon Draper, Rt Hon Winston Peters and Hon John Luxton

They come from all walks of life – they’re enterprising high school students, politically-minded academics, dancers, artists and sportspeople.

The Foundation chose to recognise young people aged 16 to 25 because they’re the people who hold the key to New Zealand’s future relationship with Asia.

The Foundation’s executive director Simon Draper says young people should not be underestimated – they have skill sets that add immense value to workplaces, community groups and beyond.

“It is exciting for the Foundation to seize the opportunity in our 25th year to recognise not only the people who are already working in the Asia-New Zealand space, but also the young people who will become leaders in the space in the future,” Mr Draper says.

“In the last 25 years we have seen many inspirational leaders who helped strengthen New Zealand’s relations with Asia. And as we look ahead, we want to develop the next generation of leaders. These are the high achievers who are already demonstrating maturity beyond their years and an ability to inspire and engage others. They are people to watch.”

The Foundation is committed to developing the next generation of leaders, especially with its 400-strong cohort of Leadership Network members. The 25 to Watch will receive leadership development guidance as part of their recognition, including a mentor.

Photo of Amelia Morgan in a striped t-shirt against a white background

Amelia Morgan, 23, from Christchurch is one of the 25 young people to watch. She is acknowledged for her contribution to Business and Entrepreneurship in the New Zealand-Asia space.

The 25 to Watch will be formally acknowledged by the Foundation and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon. Winston Peters at a ceremony on October 17 at Parliament.

25 to Watch wraps up the Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebrations; 25 years that have seen the organisation grow to be the pre-eminent organisation in New Zealand focused on Asia.

The Foundation was originally named Asia 2000 in 1994, by then Minister for Trade Negotiations Philip Burdon and then Minister of Foreign Affairs Sir Don McKinnon.

The name Asia 2000 represented the ambitious mission to have completed building New Zealanders’ knowledge and understanding of Asia.

Clearly the work is not yet finished as the Foundation continues to help thousands of New Zealanders to thrive in Asia every year. 

Mr Draper says he is particularly excited about the opportunity to recognise the 25 young leaders on October 17 to cap off the Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebrations.

“Our 25th year is an opportunity to celebrate the leaders of yesterday, of today and most importantly, the leaders of tomorrow who will grow and nurture New Zealand’s relationship with Asia into the future.”

The names of the 25 to Watch are listed below:

Business and Entrepreneurship category

  •  Amelia Morgan, 23, from Christchurch
  • Angad Nayyar, 25, Auckland
  • Brad Olsen, 22, Wellington
  • Fergus Grenfell, 23, Wellington
  • Jacinta Gulasekharam, 23, Wellington
  • Olivia Moore, 16, Taupō

Community and Not-For-Profit category

  • Dewy Sacayan, 25, Auckland
  • Irihapeti Edwards, 20, Whangarei/Auckland
  • Nina Santos, 20, Auckland
  • Serena Lim-Strutt, 20, Hamilton (currently in Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Sophia Meilee Nem, 18, Hutt Valley
  • Tharaka Munidasa, 23, Auckland

Education, Science and Research category

  • April McLennan, 22, Christchurch
  • Arina Aizal, 20, Dunedin
  • Elora Chang, 22, Dunedin
  • Logan Williams, 23, Christchurch
  • Shalini Guleria, 25, Hamilton
  • Wesley Harfield, 24, Auckland (currently in Beijing, China)

Media, Arts, Culture and Sports category

  • Alvin Cheung, 23, Auckland
  • Jessie Chiang, 24, Auckland
  • Pounamu Wharehinga, 17, Gisborne
  • Sheryne Lok, 25, Auckland
  • Xavier Breed, 23, Auckland

Public Sector category

  • Connie Minett, 25, Wellington
  • Mabel Ye, 24, Wellington

Do you want to get a better idea of the Foundation’s work since 1994? Check out the website pages on 25 moments in the Foundation’s history and 25 Foundation grantees, which paint a picture of the impact the organisation has had over 25 years.

For further information, please contact:

Rebecca Inoue-Palmer
Director Communications and Media
Asia New Zealand Foundation
04 470 8701