The Foundation is large in ambition but small in resources, so necessarily much of what we do is to prompt, facilitate, and be a catalyst for others to act.
During 2015/16 a number of new board members and a new executive director joined the Foundation. As a consequence, we have been busy examining our governance structure to ensure it is fit for purpose going forward.
Recent changes to New Zealand’s legislation have increased the legal responsibilities of trustees, which has further necessitated a review of our governance arrangements to ensure our trustees can undertake their fiduciary roles in an efficient way while maintaining the strong domestic and international standing of the Foundation.
The outcome of this review will become effective from 1 January 2017 and will see the number of trustees on the Foundation’s board decrease from the current 21. We believe a smaller number of trustees will allow the board to be more agile and more closely engaged with the Foundation, thereby allowing it to play a more typical governance role.
Also, the Foundation will establish a new group of New Zealand honorary advisers,
mirroring that of the current Asia-based honorary advisers. The New Zealand group will consist of past and present trustees and other New Zealanders who can provide the influence, advice and prestige that is important to the Foundation’s operations.
The Foundation’s latest New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey shows that New Zealand still has a long way to go in its understanding of Asia, despite high recognition of the region’s economic and cultural importance.
What is encouraging is that New Zealanders value their personal interactions with Asian people, they want to learn more about Asian cultures and languages, and they recognise that they need to know more.
As New Zealand relations with Asia continue to evolve, the Foundation will, over the coming 12 months, be implementing some new activities within its programmes and adapting its role in some of its current programmes to fulfil the need to better ‘equip New Zealanders to thrive in Asia’.
The Foundation will continue to focus on key areas such as business, education, arts and culture, media and research, as well as its leadership network, but it will also be expanding its role to encompass sport.
I would like to acknowledge the excellent contribution of Simon Draper, executive director, in leading the Foundation team. Given the wide range of activities in which the Foundation is involved, it is easy to forget that the Foundation is a small organisation with limited resources.
It is a credit to the team at the Foundation that their energy, enthusiasm and
professionalism we have continued to deliver outstanding results for the Foundation’s
funders in government and the private sector.
May I take this opportunity to acknowledge the excellent contribution of the Foundation’s 14 honorary advisers, who have continued to provide invaluable advice and support to the Foundation during the year.
I would also like to congratulate former Chairman of the Foundation, the Honourable Philip Burdon on his induction into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame. Along with Sir Don McKinnon, he helped to initiate the Asia New Zealand Foundation (then known as the Asia 2000 Foundation of New Zealand) in 1994 and has been at the forefront of strengthening New Zealand-Asia relations ever since.
My thanks to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, other ministers and
parliamentarians from all parties who have participated in and supported the Foundation’s activities throughout the year. Also for the continuing support from the Asian diplomatic community and to my fellow members of the board of trustees and our corporate partners for their continued support.
Finally, my appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and New Zealand
Trade and Enterprise for their ongoing commitment to the Foundation.
HON. JOHN LUXTON
26 October 2016