Ambassadors make Dunedin connections

Businesses in Dunedin are making connections around the globe this week.

A delegation of New Zealand and Australian-based ambassadors and high commissioners from 31 countries, led by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat), are in Dunedin for a two-day study tour of the local economy.

The aim of the tour was to highlight key local sectors and investment opportunities, particularly with countries that Dunedin businesses are exporting to, or have the potential to export to.

A strong focus was engaging with Maori business, Mfat's protocol adviser Fiona Fowler said.

A group of ambassadors and high commissioners from 31 countries are led on to Otakou marae...
A group of ambassadors and high commissioners from 31 countries are led on to Otakou marae yesterday before their study tour of Dunedin businesses. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
The trip was very important for both the visiting countries and local businesses.

"It is exposing opportunities and connecting the two together," Ms Fowler said.

The delegation included representatives from Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Japan, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

The group arrived yesterday and spent the afternoon talking to representatives from Maori businesses at Otakou marae.

Fiji’s tourism industry had been "crushed" by Covid-19 and there was a need for an innovative solution, Fiji’s high commissioner to New Zealand, Filimone Waqabaca, said.

"Prior to Covid-19, tourism made up about 40% of our GDP at home and a lot of the businesses we will be visiting are in the tourism sector, so I’m hoping we will get some ideas from them.

Fiji High Commissioner for Fiji Filimone Waqabaca stands outside Otakou Marae yesterday.
Fiji High Commissioner for Fiji Filimone Waqabaca stands outside Otakou Marae yesterday.
"We are also talking to the Maori business community and, with their economy worth $70billion to New Zealand, there may be some synergies with the resource owners here and resource owners at home," he said.

Mr Waqabaca was also interested in connecting with the local start-up community and agriculture sector.

New Zealand was very important to the Fijian economy.

"We trade a lot with New Zealand. It is an important market for our goods from home and similarly with exports from New Zealand to Fiji,"he said.

It was the first trip to New Zealand for the Danish ambassador, Pernille Kardel, who was appointed a week ago.

Ms Kardel, who is based in Canberra, was spending the trip getting to know New Zealand.

"I’m looking forward to learning about New Zealand and Dunedin businesses and also looking at cultural opportunities.

"I’m also looking at areas of co-operation and links I may not be aware of, so I’m really here to learn about my new country," she said.

Today the group met various businesses at the Otago Business School and Petridish.

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