Philippine Ambassador calls on the member of parliament for Dunedin North, New Zealand
In line with the Philippine Embassy’s continuing efforts to promote closer ties with New Zealand’s local government officials, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, accompanied by Minister and Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa, made an official call on the Honourable Dr. David Clark, Member for Parliament (MP) for Dunedin North in Otago, New Zealand on 13 February 2015 during the Embassy’s Mobile Consular Service to Dunedin on 12-16 February 2015. MP Clark is a New Zealand Labour Party’s Member of Parliament for Dunedin North. He is also the Labour Party’s current spokesperson for Economic Development and Small Business.
MP Clark warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and stated that Filipinos are active and vibrant members of Dunedin and that he is pleased t0 know that an Embassy team was in Dunedin for its mobile consular services program entitled “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching Beyond Our Grasp,” serving hundreds of Filipinos in the area and other parts of the South Island. Ambassador Benavidez shared with MP Clark that the Embassy’s Mobile Consular Service is intended to bring the whole range of consular services closer to the Filipinos in Dunedin and other adjacent cities in the Otago region which spared them the huge effort and expense of travelling to Wellington to renew passports, process certifications and avail of dual citizenship, overseas absentee voting registration, security clearance and others.
Ambassador Benavidez informed MP Clark that New Zealand has significant and growing people-to-people links with the Philippines with the Filipino population increasing significantly in New Zealand totalling 40,350 with 1,089 living in the Otago Region. Subsequent discussions were on the increasing numbers of and preference for skilled Filipinos in the rebuild and reconstruction of Christchurch, the collaborative efforts between relevant Philippine and New Zealand government agencies and private companies for the equitable treatment, and the proper deployment and smooth entry of Filipinos to New Zealand. MP Clark stated that his doors are open for Filipinos and that he would like to encourage them to touch base with his office in Dunedin. They also talked about educational linkages with the University of Otago and economic opportunities that Dunedin offers. Ambassador Benavidez thanked MP Clark for the productive meeting and close people-to-people connectivity with the Filipinos and other communities in Dunedin.