Annual Report 2020

It’s strange to look back on the Foundation’s achievements over 2019/2020. Simply put, it was a year of two halves.

In the first half of the year, we were able to support thousands of New Zealanders to learn more about Asian peoples and cultures and build connections.

We sent arts professionals to Asia to broaden their creative understandings; provided talented New Zealand graduates with experiences at some of Asia’s most exciting companies; and supported members of our Leadership Network to grow their knowledge of Asia through a range of activities, including hui in China.

We supported hundreds of sportspeople to experience some of Japan’s culture and traditions. We took New Zealand entrepreneurs to Vietnam and hosted ASEAN entrepreneurs in New Zealand to learn from their counterparts and build connections to last well beyond the journey home.

We extended our outreach into New Zealand’s regions by getting out to schools across the country and supporting a wide range of cultural festivals and conferences to include Asian voices and elements.

To support New Zealand’s public conversations on Asia, we published three major research reports, held a series of dynamic Track II dialogues and roundtables, and published numerous articles on our own platforms or in the media.
Providing real-life, on-the-ground experiences for New Zealanders has been a key focus of our work for many years, but this experiential focus took a real hit in 2020. Like communities, organisations and businesses around the world, our work has been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between January and end of March 2020, we had to take a one-day-at-a-time approach. We kept a close eye on the outbreak in Asia and here in New Zealand and kept in regular contact with our partners and advisers.
The result was a raft of cancellations and postponements – some made by the Foundation, some by other people and organisations – which needed to happen to ensure the health and wellbeing of those involved. Many of our partner agencies and recipients of our funding have also had planned activity disrupted; and we have worked with them to find new ways to deliver their objectives where possible.

Like many other New Zealand organisations, in recent months we have focused on adjusting our work programmes for this significantly changed world. Our ability to travel to Asia, to support others to travel and to host guests here has been constrained — but we know there is plenty we can do to grow New Zealanders’ knowledge, connections and confidence of Asia right here in Aotearoa.

Ngā mihi ki a koutou,

Simon Draper