Philippine Ambassador calls on New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2015
Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez called on the Honourable Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand at his office in Parliament on 16 September 2015. Also present during the call were Mr. Stephen Harris, Divisional Manager of the South and South East Asia Division and Mr. Lawry Perrott, Policy Officer, South and South East Division of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), and Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa of the Embassy.
Foreign Minister McCully warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and stated that he greatly appreciates the Ambassador’s hard work in maintaining and building Philippines-New Zealand relations during her time as Ambassador to New Zealand. The Foreign Minister said that the relationship of the two countries is in a good space with high level visits and contacts on both sides continuing as well as with the significant numbers of Filipinos working in all sectors of the economy in New Zealand.
Ambassador Benavidez highlighted the key enablers of the strength of the relations between the Philippines and New Zealand, namely, the considerable increase in high level exchanges, the visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to New Zealand in 2012, concrete cooperation in the defence sector, and the upcoming inaugural direct flight service of Philippine Airlines to New Zealand on 01 December 2015. She also stated that the Philippines’ and New Zealand’s warm and strong ties are underpinned by its people-based relationships. There are now close to 44,ooo Filipinos in New Zealand growing and thriving in its multicultural society.
Foreign Minister McCully acknowledged that the dairy industry, which is the mainstay of New Zealand’s economy, is heavily dependent on Filipino workers and he sees this continuing into the future. He also cited the fact that Filipino workers are now a dominant force and integral part of the long term rebuild of Christchurch and that local authorities, companies, and employers acknowledge and appreciate the valuable contribution of the Filipino workers participating in the city’s rebuild and reconstruction as well as in health and other sectors. The Foreign Minister also stated that the Philippine Airlines direct flights to New Zealand will be a big step forward and a game changer for the progress of Philippine-New Zealand relations.
Foreign Minister McCully expressed his personal best wishes to Ambassador Benavidez and H.E. Albert del Rosario, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines. The Foreign Minister stated that Ambassador Benavidez should be proud of what she has achieved during her time in New Zealand. Ambassador Benavidez conveyed her deepest appreciation and personal thanks to the Foreign Minister for the very warm hospitality and friendship extended to her by the Government and People of New Zealand during her memorable, meaningful and momentous diplomatic assignment for the past four years.