I took up the role of Executive Director on 31 August 2015. During the last nine months of the reporting period Adele Mason was the Acting Executive Director, and I and the board would like to thank her for the excellent work over this period.
In 2014/15, with the assistance of our wide network of partners, the team at the Asia New Zealand Foundation continued to work tirelessly to strengthen New Zealand’s links with Asia.
During the year, in partnership with AUT University, ANZ, Beca and the New Zealand China Business Council, the Foundation’s business programme offered a range of outstanding networking opportunities for New Zealand business people.
Our business programme continued to enable New Zealanders to gain valuable work experience in Asia through internships with organisations in the region, such as KPMG in Vietnam and the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan.
The Foundation also brought 15 of Southeast Asia’s leading entrepreneurs to New Zealand to participate in the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, and put in place plans for this exciting project to be reciprocal and enable New Zealand entrepreneurs to visit Southeast Asia.
2014/15 was a strong year for the Foundation’s Leadership Network, with a particular focus on enhancing member engagement. Given that more than a third of the Network lives overseas, keeping members connected continued to be a priority.
Helping New Zealand educators to become ‘Asia Equipped’ so that they in turn can equip students to thrive in the Asian century continued to be the focus of the Foundation’s education programme in 2014/15.
Amongst the many excellent opportunities for New Zealand teachers to extend their knowledge of the Asian region and Asian languages, the Foundation held the Shanghai Business Forum, which provided on-the-ground insights into China’s business environment and inspired educators to include more content about the country in their teaching. Technology teachers were given the opportunity to visit Tokyo, Japan.
A highlight of the Foundation’s arts and culture programme was the presentation of Imagine Asia, New Zealand artists respond to contemporary Asia, a retrospective exhibition of the work of artists who have been in our artist residency programmes since 2007. The highly successful exhibition at Pataka Art + Museum was visited by more than 56,000 people.
Tens of thousands of people attended the Foundation’s 13th Diwali Festivals of Lights, organised in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) and Wellington City Council.
The Year of the Sheep also delivered capacity crowds for the 2015 Lantern Festival in Auckland’s Albert Park, organised in partnership with ATEED. Following the Festival, the Foundation took visiting Wushu performers from Shanghai and puppeteers from Guangzhou to schools in Auckland and Rotorua.
The Foundation also signed a three-year contract with Creative New Zealand to deliver professional development opportunities in North Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Through our long-running media programme, the Foundation continued to support New Zealand journalists to travel to Asia independently to conduct research in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
The Foundation continued to support graduates and young working journalists on media internships, including at the International New York Times in Hong Kong, Deccan Herald in India, Shanghai Daily in China, Bangkok Post in Thailand, CNBC Asia in Singapore, and ThePhilippine Star in the Philippines.
In 2014/15 the Foundation contributed to various Track II (informal diplomacy) dialogues and organised several of its own Track II roundtables, including with Dr Mary Boyd of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Dialogues were held in Wellington with Vietnam, as well as with ASEAN/Australia in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, India in New Delhi and Yangon in Myanmar. A new ‘15 + 15’ initiative connecting young people to Track II processes was held with Indonesia’s Habibie Center.
Research on New Zealand trade policy in Asia by Victoria University of Wellington’s John Leslie was released in January, and the University of Auckland’s Wardlow Friesen released a report on Asian Auckland in March. The annual New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey by Colmar Brunton was released in April.
I would like to thank the team for continuing to deliver such outstanding results, our board members and honorary advisers for their guidance and support, and members of parliament and our core sponsors and external partners for their continued commitment.
SIMON J DRAPER
7 October 2015