New Zealand Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia
From the Ambassador's Blog: ASEAN Ambassadors rate relations with New Zealand as “sweet as”
From the Ambassador's blog: http://blogs.mfat.govt.nz/david-taylor/
ASEAN Ambassadors rate relations with New Zealand as “sweet as”
“Sweet as!” became the phrase of the moment for ASEAN’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) when they visited New Zealand in August.
The CPR is a group of 10 Ambassadors from South East Asian nations representing their countries in Jakarta at the ASEAN Secretariat. They contribute across the board to the management and implementation of the ambitious ASEAN agenda of political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cooperation. They also act as the interface between ASEAN countries and the dialogue partners, the 13 countries and organisations (including New Zealand) that have a formal and regular process of dialogue with ASEAN.
The CPR were established under the ASEAN Charter in 2008. In recent years they have visited some of the dialogue partner countries for discussions and to learn more about the relationships and issues in play.
We invited them plus a senior ASEAN Secretariat official to New Zealand for a five day visit.
We kicked the process off in Wellington with meetings with Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser. Both underscored the importance New Zealand attaches to its relations with ASEAN countries and the centrality of ASEAN for New Zealand’s engagement with the wider Asia-Pacific region. The Ambassador of Laos, Latsamy Keomany, responded that the relationship was “healthy and on track”. All welcomed the decision to hold a commemorative summit in 2015 to celebrate 40 years of the dialogue partnership between ASEAN and New Zealand. This will be an opportunity to chart the way ahead and to check progress on implementation of the Government’s ASEAN Partnership Strategy launched in July.
During the remainder of the visit, there was a strong focus on areas where New Zealand is seeking to deliver support to ASEAN, drawing on our capabilities and addressing ASEAN needs. Among the areas highlighted were:
- Education – the group engaged Victoria University of Wellington, Canterbury University, Lincoln University, Auckland University of Technology and the University of Auckland. There were opportunities at three of the universities to meet with current students from South East Asia.
- Disaster Rick Management – a major focus of a day in Christchurch was the management of disasters. The group visited the centre of Christchurch and saw the impact of the quakes in 2011/12 and the ongoing effort to rebuild. The so-called “cardboard cathedral”, involving cardboard tubes in its construction, and the shopping precinct made out of containers were among the stops. They were briefed by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the University of Canterbury Risk Resilience Renewal and Seismic staff and on an innovative project, the Ceismic Digital Archive (http://www.ceismic.org.nz/) containing images and stories from people sharing their experience of the earthquakes.
- Agriculture – they party saw Lincoln University’s state of the art dairy farm, which produces about 1800 kgs of milk solids per cow (above the New Zealand average of about 1300 kgs per animal), Fonterra’s Processing Plant at Te Rapa which dries around 8 million litres of milk per day, and MilkTestNZ, the milk standards testing facility in Hamilton, which regularly tests milk from all New Zealand farms using state of the art techniques.
- Innovation – Fisher and Paykel Healthcare introduced their world-leading breathing equipment for hospital use and for the home (for those suffering from snoring and sleep apnea!). There was a stop at Hobbiton en route from Hamilton to Auckland showcasing our film industry and creative sector.
Our ASEAN friends came away from the visit more deeply informed about the contributions New Zealand is making and can make to stronger relations between our countries. Feedback since the visit has focused on the high level of knowledge and awareness among the people they met about ASEAN, delight at the positive feedback they got from students from their countries studying at our institutions, and their commitment to working with us to take the relationship up another level at the 2015 Summit.