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New Zealand South East Asia Parliamentary Friendship Group Delegation | NZ Parliament

February 20, 2020


>>The absolute highlight was the total immersion in two different countries. The first being Indonesia; second, India.>>We spent quite a bit of our time meeting with parliamentary counterparts, Ministers, ASEAN officials, and others to look at opportunities to grow both our trading and other connections with Indonesia.>>We were able to meet with both the Vice Speakers of Indonesian Parliament, upper House and lower House, to see how we can cooperate with each other.>>We met with parliamentarians, we met with Speakers and businesses, and also had the opportunity to see what our foreign affairs were actually able to do to help the local community. One of the things that the foreign affairs was actually doing through the embassy was children learning about civil defence— if there was an earthquake, what you do; if there was actually a flood, what you do.>>It is really important that children are aware of what they need to do in the event of an earthquake or perhaps a tsunami. And we were really delighted to see the lessons that they were getting into was very practical hands on things. They had models, and they were able to work with their teachers. They were loving the lesson but also taking it very seriously.>>From Jakarta, we flew to India. We engaged with business.>>Tata is one of the biggest companies on the Indian market. Then we also met with Fonterra over there. They will be producing some of the products locally and marketing them.>>Not only did we meet many people from India with a good understanding, either through their involvement in thinktanks, their involvement in business. Certainly, I came away with a far greater insight of particularly India and how important it is and can be in the future to New Zealand.>>There are huge opportunities for us to develop our trading and other ties with India, and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the Indian Parliament. There’s a huge number of parties. We met with an external affairs committee and had a great discussion with them about a range of issues that are of considerable importance to both of our countries.>>There were leaders of their parties who actually came to meet with the New Zealand members of Parliament. And the engagement that we had, the conversation we had, was absolutely fantastic. And I think that was one of the reasons why this trip was really important, because it wasn’t just government to government. It was actually New Zealand members of Parliament engaging with Indian members of Parliament. And through these relationships, we actually talk about similarities, differences, and what have you, and we learn from each other.>>We had very good interactions with institutions of Indian democracy, which are very important. One was the election commission. India is one of the biggest democracies, and election commission plays a very important role. It is an independent body which looks after all the elections at all the levels. And we had a very good insight from the commissioner himself.>>There was a very moving experience, and that was on the day when we visited a centre that provides art and crafts and other activities for children and young adults who are suffering from cancer, with the most caring group of staff you could hope to meet.>>It’s sort of like a Ronald McDonald House but in India, in Delhi, and it was helping children with cancer— an opportunity to come to a place where they’re actually getting away from hospital and the treatments and everything else— and how our foreign affairs money was actually helping those families.>>Overall, I feel that it was a very good experience for all of us.>>We’re not just about getting over there and trying to trade and trying to get what we can out of those countries; we’re there as a genuine interest and continuing and building on the opportunities between our countries.>>Knowing some of the people who we could end up dealing with in the future, I think, has enormous value because it means that a door is already partly open, which just might prove to our considerable advantage in years to come.

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