Message from the Ambassador

29 November 2017

 

There’s been quite a lot of international attention focused on the Korean Peninsula over the past months.  For New Zealand, peace and stability in North East Asia is central to our own stability and prosperity.  This is part of our neighbourhood. The new government, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and sworn in late last month, has put on the record New Zealand’s support for international collective efforts to achieve the peaceful denuclearisation of the Peninsula.    

New Zealand remains committed to supporting stability here on the Peninsula, with NZDF personnel serving in the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNC MAC) supervising implementation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Earlier in the year New Zealand announced the extension and expansion of NZDF’s commitment to UNC.

Korea and New Zealand also have well established bilateral military links, supported by high-level exchanges and joint exercises. Over the past few months, New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating, Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly, and Deputy Secretary of Defence Tony Lynch have been among the defence-related visitors to South Korea. 

On the economic side, cooperation under the Korea-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement is growing.  A great example is from the education sector.  In July 150 Korean students from rural communities studied English and stayed with New Zealand families in the Waikato, Marlborough and Canterbury, under the FTA’s joint agriculture/forestry/fisheries cooperation programme.  We checked in with the students on their return and discovered that there are now another 150 young Ambassadors for New Zealand spread around South Korea.   They had a great time (and learned a lot too!)

In May/June, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), led the second annual New Zealand Food Week (actually more like “Food Month”) in Seoul and Busan, including New Zealand Wine Festivals in both cities.  An impressive number of people - both householders and industry folk  - got to experience great New Zealand food and beverages.  It’s no wonder that F&B trade is growing so strongly under the FTA.  Special thanks to our long-standing Cultural Ambassador Ha Ji-Won for supporting the Embassy event.  First prize was a dinner with Ha Ji-Won at the New Zealand Residence.

Given growing Korean interest in New Zealand food and beverages, it was great to see the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) hold a seminar in September on trade and investment opportunities in New Zealand's agriculture, food and beverages sectors, getting the news out to a wide range of stakeholders.

On the creative industries, in late September five-time Oscar winner Sir Richard Taylor visited Korea to present awards at the 2017 Gwangmyeong Cave International Fantasy Contest.  Sir Richard and Weta Workshop have supported the Festival for over four years and it has grown hugely over this time.  The award winners will travel to New Zealand to work with Sir Richard and his creative team.

There’s also been a lot happening on the cultural side, with New Zealand's Atamira Dance Company, staging a great collaborative performance with Seoul's ChangMu Dance Company, Muscle Mouth Dance Company performing to sell-out audiences in Busan and Seoul, and Kiwi jazz group, The Jac, performing in six different cities around Korea. 

It’s great to see so much Kiwi talent in Korea!  I mention these three groups’ visits for a particular reason.  Each has worked on its links with Korea over a number of years, through relationships established over time.  They’re great examples of how putting energy into Korea- New Zealand links across a range of sectors represents a worthwhile investment of effort. 

 

Clare Fearnley

Ambassador  

25 May 2017

Kia ora tatou.

Earlier this month, Prime Minster Bill English extended his congratulations to the 19th President  of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, following his inauguration on 10 May 2017.   As long-standing like-minded partners in the Asia-Pacific our two countries have many common interests.  We look forward to working closely with the new administration.

Over the recent few months, the Embassy  has been engaged across a range of fields :  from supporting the film sector to promoting goods trade, as well as science and climate change cooperation, to defence, cultural exchange and education.  

On 25 April, the second Korea-New Zealand FTA Joint Commission Meeting was held in Seoul aimed at strengthening implementation of the Agreement, which came into force in December 2015. The FTA delivered strong results in its first full year since entry into force. Two way goods and services trade increased 8% to NZ$4.35 billion in 2016. As more rounds of tariff cuts are scheduled for the coming years, businesses and consumers in both countries will benefit more from the trade deal.

This year’s Anzac Day commemoration in Seoul on 25 April was attended by New Zealand Korean War veterans, David Mannering and Ian Blissett, and their partners.  They also took part in Commonwealth Korean War commemorations in Gapyeong and Busan. Their visit was a great way to acknowledge and mark the sacrifices made by ANZACs throughout the decades – including the men and women serving in our armed forces today.

Korea now has a new member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. I had the honour and privilege to present to Chairman Kim Jae-chul of Dongwon Group the insignia of appointment as an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, at an investiture ceremony held at the New Zealand Residence on 16 May. Chairman Kim has been New Zealand’s honorary consul in Busan since 2010 and a great advocate for New Zealand-Korea trade and business relations. Congratulations and thank you for your support to the New Zealand community, Chairman Kim. 

Our education links with Korea are flourishing.  Korea and New Zealand have recently signed a ‘Joint Recognition Statement on the Comparison of Senior Secondary Qualifications’, supporting student mobility between Korea and New Zealand.  Over recent months, Korean student visa numbers have grown solidly, and we look forward to that continuing.    Korea is New Zealand’s fourth largest source of international students. 

It was a great pleasure to mark the start of summer here in Seoul at the New Zealand Wine Festival last weekend, arranged by the Kiwi Chamber – with a repeat to come in Busan early in June. 

As the temperatures start to warm up in Korea, I wish you all well for the summer.

Mihi nui.

Ambassador Clare Fearnley

1 November 2016

New Zealand is an open and connected country that takes its reputation for fairness and constructive engagement seriously - and contributes actively to try to resolve problems.  We are currently a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) through to the end of 2017 - and, for the month of September, New Zealand chaired the Council.

This coincided with a busy time for the UNSC as Leaders, including Prime Minister John Key and South Korean President Park Geun-hye, travelled to New York for the UN General Assembly opening sessions.

Under New Zealand’s September presidency, the UNSC addressed issues such as the conflict in Syria, the interests of Small Island Developing States, the safety of international air travellers, and the importance of the comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty regime.  Some of the issues on the UNSC agenda seem almost intractable, but stepping aside from efforts to address them is not an option.

The September presidency also meant we were in the midst of the Council’s response to North Korea’s fifth nuclear test.   And tensions on the Korean Peninsula also featured on the agenda of the East Asia Summit (EAS), held in Laos in the same month, which Prime Minister Key and President Park also attended, together with other Asia-Pacific leaders.

Last month, the successor to the current UN Secretary General, ROK’s Ban Ki-moon, was identified.  Helen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister and current United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), made a committed bid for the Secretary General role, but joined with Prime Minister Key and others in congratulating Portugal’s Antonio Guterres who succeeded in being confirmed as the next UNSG.  He’ll take up the office in January 2017.

New Zealand’s work on the UNSC is an indication of the diverse range of global interests that New Zealand engages on, well beyond our immediate region.    New Zealand works hard to ensure that our voice is heard and that we are part of the solution to global challenges.   

One way or another, we’re all connected.   We often find ourselves engaging closely with Korea on international and regional issues, with shared commitments to democratic values, peace and stability, and regional economic integration.  We’re natural partners.

Ambassador Clare Fearnley