The 2021-22 year was another one that challenged the Asia New Zealand Foundation to work creatively to achieve its mission of equipping New Zealanders to thrive in Asia.
Not only did the pandemic continue to constrain the Foundation’s offshore engagement, but it also took a heavy toll on domestic events we had organised or sponsored. Perhaps the most prominent was the Auckland Lantern Festival, cancelled for the third year running, but a raft of other conferences, performances and festivals around the country were also cancelled, postponed or shifted online.
Fortunately, it feels as if we have turned a corner in 2022, with the Foundation team once again being able to travel to Asia and reconnect with our contacts in person. In the months ahead, we are looking forward to taking participants of our programmes — whether arts, business, leadership, the media or Track II — to Asia to grow their knowledge and understanding of the region, and to host guests here in Aotearoa.
A personal highlight for me was travelling to Malaysia and Singapore in June, to Asia’s premier defence summit, the Shangri-La Dialogue. It was a reminder of the importance of connecting face-to-face, and also that New Zealand’s relationships in the region are critical to New Zealand’s future.
I also enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with our Asia Honorary Advisers through an online meeting in March. They noted it was time for New Zealand to re-engage in the region; and they were strong advocates for growing youth dialogue in particular. The overall takeaway was that the Asia New Zealand Foundation’s work strengthening relationships across a range of strands, and through people-to-people links, was more vital than ever in these challenging times.
In 2021-22, the Foundation was pleased to welcome new trustees Te Poa Karoro (Paul) Morgan, Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i and Ziena Jalil; and I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my other fellow trustees Lyn Lim, Simon Watt and Danny Chan.
We also welcomed New Zealand Honorary Advisers Warrick Cleine, Hon Lianne Dalziel, Sameer Handa, Kyle Murdoch, Simon Murdoch, Nicola Ngarewa, Sachie Nomura, Paula Tesoriero and Josh Wharehinga. The Minister agreed to give the title of “Founder of the Foundation” to Sir Don McKinnon and Hon Philip Burdon, both of whom worked hard to establish the Asia New Zealand Foundation (then called Asia 2000) when they were Ministers in the 1990s.
I would like to acknowledge the contributions of outgoing New Zealand Honorary Advisers Dr Alan Bollard, Trish Carter, Peter Chin, Ian Kennedy, Richard Long, Peter Miskimmin, Hon Simon Power and Dr Farib Sos. They have made invaluable contributions to our work over the years and we look forward to maintaining our connections with them.
Asia New Zealand Foundation Chair
Hon Dame Fran Wilde, DNZM QSO