PHL Ambassador highlights Philippines-New Zealand relations at Probus Club of Onslow in Johnsonville, Greater Wellington, New Zealand
As part of the Philippine Embassy’s public diplomacy efforts to promote greater understanding and goodwill with the people in New Zealand and highlight the vital aspects of Philippines-New Zealand relations, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez spoke before the Probus Club of Onslow at the Johnsonville Uniting Church, Greater Wellington on 17 September 2013. Ms. Mary Mason, a member of the Probus Club invited Ambassador Benavidez to be the guest speaker as part of the Probus Club’s objectives of promoting friendship and fellowship and interacting with one another as they expand the horizons of their interests and opportunities to make new friends. On this regular meeting of the Probus Club of Onslow, Ambassador Benavidez spoke on the topic “The Philippines and New Zealand as Friends, Neighbours and Partners.”
Ambassador Benavidez greeted the audience in the Filipino and Maori languages and thanked Ms. Pauline Smith, Trip Coordinator, Ms. Mary Mason and the members of Probus Club of Onslow for the wonderful opportunity to share the strong, steadfast, stable and strategic relations between the Philippines and New Zealand. This is part of her laser focused determination to raise greater awareness and profile of the Philippines as a close friend, partner and neighbour of New Zealand and the thriving and thrilling people connection between Filipinos and New Zealanders. She provided a comprehensive overview of the two countries’ bilateral and regional partnership and the shared adherence to democratic values and principles, good governance, rules-based approach, peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, peace-building and respect for human rights. The successful and productive State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to New Zealand on 22-23 October 2012 and the warm welcome and gracious hospitality of and fruitful meetings with His Excellency Lieutenant-General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General and the Honourable John Key, Prime Minister, greatly advanced the momentum of Philippines-New Zealand relations at the personal and official levels. She highlighted the fact that the President’s journey of partnership forged deeper, more meaningful and even more positive engagement in the political, defence, security, economic and people-to-people cooperation. Ministerial led visits as well as the exchange of visits of senior officials, parliamentarians, businessmen and other stakeholders underscored the two countries’ common values and shared strategic interests and provided the impetus to deepen mutually beneficial partnership in the priority areas of cooperation. Ambassador Benavidez proceeded to present the economic, trade, investments, business development assistance, rugby, ASEAN, United Nations and regional and international links and the vital and vibrant roles and contributions of more than 36,000 Filipinos in New Zealand.
The lively open forum and the appreciative response of the Probus Club of Onslow capped a very enjoyable and memorable event that certainly fostered greater understanding about Philippines-New Zealand relations and people-to-people interaction between Filipinos and New Zealanders.