PHL Ambassador and ASEAN heads of mission visit Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy actively pursues its economic diplomacy priorities, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez joined the ASEAN Heads of Mission (HOMs) Visit to Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand on 22-24 July 2013. This is part of the objective of the ASEAN Committee in Wellington (ACW) to raise the profile and greater awareness of ASEAN both as a region and as individual countries among the various sectors in New Zealand, explore business linkages and establish networking with companies and private sector for increased trade, investment, tourism and economic cooperation and promote deeper people-to-people ties through educational and cultural links. After their visits to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city and business centre, the ACW members decided to visit Dunedin which has a thriving and growing economy, is home to the world renowned Otago University specializing in the medical and related fields, College of Education for training school teachers and Otago Polytechnic as well as to leading smart and iconic companies involved in advanced technology and higher value processing in agriculture, film production, research and development, ICT, independent and scientific certification of the origin of food products and education and the Tiki Tour Map showing the richness and variety of Maori culture in the lower South Island. The ASEAN HOMs’ visit to Dunedin which was coordinated by Malaysian High Commissioner H.E. Ms. Rosmidah Zahid, as the Chairperson of ACW, was held soon after the launching of the New Zealand Inc. ASEAN Strategy by Prime Minister John Key on 12 July 2013.
His Worship Dave Cull, the Mayor of Dunedin warmly welcomed the ASEAN Heads of Mission as he hosted the civic dinner and reception on 23 July 2013 and thanked them for choosing his city to strengthen cooperation and people-to-people understanding between local communities and ASEAN. He spoke on the importance of the ASEAN HOMs visit at a time when Dunedin is going all out as a bustling business hub, knowledge and education centre and tourism destination showcasing Maori guide, trail and heritage in the lower South Island. The ASEAN Heads of Mission called on Mayor Cull on 24 July 2013 and there was a fruitful discussion and interaction on the possible ways for Dunedin and ASEAN countries can cooperate on a variety of specialized areas of cooperation.
The Dunedin City Council organized the arrangements for the presentation on the New Zealand Honey Company, visit to the Fisher and Paykel, presentation on the Maori Business Network for Otago and Southland Region (KUMA), visit to Natural History New Zealand (NHNZ), cocktail reception hosted by Maori Tourism and KUMA, visit to University of Otago, visit to the Centre for Innovation of the University of Otago, visit to the Pacific Edge Company, visit to the Silver Fern Farms, visit to Telford, a division of Lincoln University and a tour of Telford’s farm sites and milking shed, presentations by various institutions and partners of the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy, namely, the Dunedin City Council, Otago Polytechnic, Otago Southland Employers Association (OSEA), Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu and the Otago Chamber of Commerce, question and answer sessions and networking between the ASEAN Heads of Mission and the speakers and representatives and visit to Scott Technology. After the presentation of the partners of the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy, Ambassador Benavidez spoke on behalf of the ASEAN Heads of Mission and thanked Mayor Cull, the Dunedin City Council, the presenters and all those who have come together and assisted in making the visit of the ASEAN Ambassadors and High Commissioners a very enlightening, educational, experiential and explorative one. She conveyed the support and commitment of the ASEAN HOMs to continue pursuing the potential areas of cooperation and deepening people-to-people engagements through education, tourism, trade and investment missions and other important pathways.