The resumed activities were a reminder of the importance of face-to-face connections with stakeholders in Asia across arts, sports, business, entrepreneurship and media programmes and for delegations from our Leadership Network and Track II diplomacy community.
A highlight for me was the regional biennial meeting of our Asia-based Honorary Advisers in Singapore in March, which included the Chair of the network, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta. Bringing together our Board and offshore advisers, the gathering included a range of influential business, government, academia and community leaders. It was a powerful demonstration of the ongoing support these advisers provide to the Foundation.
Back in New Zealand, I also enjoyed catching up with our New Zealand Honorary Advisers at gatherings in Auckland and Wellington and was delighted to hear from participants of the Leadership Network Tāngata Moana hui on Pacific-Asia connections that was held in June in Auckland. Their enthusiasm and passion lit up the room.
We have had several opportunities to present and discuss the results of the 26th New Zealanders’ Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples survey. Despite regional and international challenges, the report highlights the strong interest that New Zealanders maintain in Asia. In 2022, a record 80 percent of New Zealanders said developing political, social and economic ties with Asia was important for New Zealand’s future. It was also encouraging to hear that young people show a strong appetite to connect with modern Asia through entertainment, sport, games and pop culture. The contributions of Foundation leaders were recognised in the 2023 Honours.
Foundation Deputy Chair Paul Te Poa Karoro Morgan was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to Māori and business, while Foundation Honorary Adviser (and now a Trustee) Khoa Dang (Mitchell) Pham was appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in recognition of his services to the technology sector and New Zealand-Asia relations.
As well as Mitchell, the Foundation was pleased to welcome new trustees Hongyu (Carol) Cheng and Tina Porou and acknowledge the contributions of retiring trustees Lyn Lim, Simon Watt and Danny Chan who have since been appointed New Zealand Honorary Advisers. I would like to acknowledge the contribution of my other fellow trustees Te Poa Karoro (Paul) Morgan, Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i, Ziena Jalil and Chris Seed. We also welcomed during the year Asia Honorary Adviser Hu Shuli from China and newly appointed
New Zealand Honorary Adviser Tania Te Whenua.
We are about to farewell Executive Director Simon Draper, who is returning to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For nearly eight years Simon has deftly guided the Foundation through a period that welcomed a range of new initiatives, including our 25 to Watch, the Asia Media Centre, our podcast series, the establishment of our Christchurch office and a range of commitments to te ao Māori. I want to thank Simon for his stewardship throughout a period of considerable growth and his ongoing dedication to maintaining the Foundation’s status and reputation as New Zealand’s leading authority on Asia.
HON DAME FRAN WILDE, DNZM QSO