While the last twelve months have gone quite quickly, the Foundation packed those months with various activities aimed at helping New Zealanders to grow their knowledge, connections and confidence with Asia. We have endeavoured to achieve this through our six programme areas namely business, education, media, arts, research & engagement, and leadership & entrepreneurship.
I was personally involved in some of these initiatives. In August last year, I led a high level Track II delegation of New Zealand experts to China. We met and exchanged views with Chinese academics and officials about the emerging regional economic architecture. We also discussed how China’s Belt and Road Initiative has developed since it was first introduced.
In June this year, upon the invitation of one of our Asia-based honorary advisers — Singapore’s Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen, Foundation executive director Simon Draper and I attended the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, the foremost security and defence dialogue for the Asia-Pacific.
The Foundation’s participation in these dialogues is important in that they build and enhance our connections with our partners in the region which is at the heart of what we do as organisation.
Earlier this year, we gathered both our Asia and New Zealand-based honorary advisers in Auckland for our first joint meeting. I am pleased to report we had a high level of interest and turnout. We took this opportunity to update them on the work of the Foundation and to seek their advice on how we can further enhance our work in forging stronger ties between New Zealand and the region.
Let me take this opportunity once again to express my heartfelt thanks to those who joined us despite their very busy schedules. The attendance of these prominent advisers in Asia and New Zealand is a testament not only to the enduring bonds of friendship we have with them but also to the high regard to which they hold the Foundation.
Next year, the Foundation will be celebrating its 25th anniversary and I am pleased to report it is in a strong position.
I congratulate our executive director Simon Draper for his leadership and thank all the staff for their commitment and dedication.
There is no question New Zealand’s present and future — economically, socially, culturally, will continue to intertwine with Asia. And this reality means the work of the Foundation — that is equipping New Zealanders to thrive in Asia, will remain relevant in the foreseeable future.
Many thanks to the members of the board for their contribution. Finally, on behalf of the Foundation, we express our gratitude to Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Winston Peters for his support. No better acknowledgement of our achievements and the importance of the work we do than the increase in funding the Foundation received. We take this as a sign of the government’s trust and confidence in the Foundation.
HON JOHN LUXTON CNZM QSO Chairman