Speaker’s Delegation: Ethiopia, Rwanda & Turkey, April 2019 | NZ Parliament
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Speaker’s Delegation: Ethiopia, Rwanda & Turkey, April 2019 | NZ Parliament

November 20, 2019

Hi. I’m Trevor Mallard. Most years, a Speaker takes a delegation away
to a variety of countries. The reason for going to Africa was that there
are a lot of countries there, a lot of them with good links to New Zealand, and we haven’t
really given them the attention that we should. At the moment, there’s not a large amount
of trade that happens from Turkey, Rwanda, or Ethiopia, and one of our objectives was
just to look at where the potential areas might be where we could have positive trade
relationships, where we can do the things that we’re good at and we can import areas
in which they specialise. We went in the aftermath of the terrorist
attack in Christchurch, and that was a focal point in all three countries. People acknowledge that New Zealand was generally
a very safe place, that this was a tragedy, and also acknowledged the fact that New Zealand
handled it really well. People were impressed at the way that New
Zealanders had embraced the people from the mosques after the tragedy.>>The thing that really interests me in Ethiopia
was the situation of women. There is an enormous number of displaced persons
– in the millions – and, of course, for any family, and particularly for women that often
are leading those families, living as a displaced person is enormously stressful and enormously
difficult. We visited the Hamlin Fistula Trust, which
is just outside Addis Ababa. It was set up by a couple of doctors from
Australia and New Zealand, and it was working with women who have been damaged during childbirth.>>So it was a wonderful visit to learn about
the work that they are doing: the operations, the surgeries, but also about how they work
with those women to empower them and give them the skills to start their own businesses
and to, basically, start a new life.>>It was great to be at the African Union
having meetings with the leaders and key players there. The African Union represents 50-plus nations
across the African continent – a real powerhouse trying to connect the continent.>>It’s a place where lots of African countries
are represented at a high level, where a lot of discussions occur. Going forward, that’s going to be something
which is important to New Zealand, because there’s no way that we’ll be able to be represented
diplomatically in all the African countries. So it’ll be a matter of using the Union.>>We received an incredibly warm welcome
from Ethiopia, connected to the history way back in 1935, when New Zealand took a stand
to defend their independence when Italy, led by Mussolini, invaded. What that was a real reminder of to me is
just how long term foreign policy in the world is and how, over a long period, you can sow
the seeds for your country in having a good reputation.>>We chose to go to Rwanda because it is
the 25th anniversary of the genocide there. New Zealand played a very important role in
the United Nations in trying to prevent the genocide. Our representatives pushed for there to be
more peacekeeping troops. We were unsuccessful. This was just an immense tragedy.>>We attended the genocide memorial. I don’t mind saying that I was in buckets
of tears throughout most of that experience, learning about the absolute horror of what
had happened. However, the story that they told was done
in such a way as to give us hope and to also warn us of the ingredients of genocide. I’m not a big crier, but I did cry at the
genocide commemoration museum. It was heartbreaking seeing the impact of
the genocide on that society – that 10 percent plus of their population were killed over
a tragic six-week period. However, I was incredibly proud to also learn
of the positive role New Zealand played at the time on the UN Security Council 25 years
ago. We had an incredibly warm welcome from the
Rwandan people, the Rwandan Government. They remembered that we stood up in their
time of need – one of the only countries in the world.>>The lesson for me is, actually, the world
needs to be uncompromising in its opposition to genocide, including the use of military
intervention – really reinforced for me the importance of the United Nations, its strength,
and learning from that enormous failure.>>While we are with the Minister of foreign
affairs, we presented to him five bound volumes of documents, which were, essentially, the
cables. They were the record of our discussions between
our UN post and Wellington and with other nations during the time that we were chairing
the Security Council in 1994. We’re the first country to do that, and what
the Rwandans really appreciated was that we were giving them our – up until then – sometimes
classified documentation so that they could go back and they could see the background
in the United Nations and in other countries.>>The resilience that community has shown
after a devastating effects of the genocide. But there’s lots of positives coming out of
Rwanda. They’re thinking to the future. They’re thinking to their new generations
coming through. And one of the visits I particularly enjoyed
was to the African Improved Foods factory, a magnificently run factory. It is part of an international consortium
who have set up a social enterprise to produce nutritious food to avoid the stunting and
the malnutrition that we’ve seen in so many African countries.>>Rwanda has been somewhere I’ve always wanted
to visit, particularly because they have nearly 65 percent of women in Parliament, which is
absolutely aspirational.>>One of the things that we visited there
was a company called Ampersand, which is producing electric motorbikes. There was a guy called Josh Whale. Josh and his team have found a way of putting
a battery into them, getting the battery in and out really quickly. A really good example of an innovative New
Zealander making a difference in Africa.>>All of us MPs, we had one day off over
15-16 days we travelled, and some of us elected to go see the gorillas. Now, this was self-funded. There are 1,004 gorillas left in the world. The gorillas were all around us. We trekked into the hills. All of the community benefits from the visits
to the gorillas. Just an amazing experience.>>The main reason for going to Turkey was
that we were representing New Zealand at the Anzac commemorations. I really want to place on record my thanks
to the service people and the people from Veterans’ Support for the leadership that
they showed in the commemorations. And the way that they helped bring New Zealanders
and Australians together was something that was very, very special. Make me proud to be a New Zealander.>>The memories are still there. They’re present. And it was wonderful to be at the New Zealand
ceremony with such strong elements of Māori culture – a haka, a waiata. A sense of informality to accompany the respect
and the memory.>>A special highlight for me was my niece
who was at the New Zealand Anzac ceremony, and she was directing the foreguards who come
to the service, and then the haka.>>We were very warmly welcomed everywhere
we we went in Turkey. We were particularly welcome to the Parliament,
and the Speaker spent time with us explaining how their Parliament worked, and that was
an interesting visit in itself. And then, of course, we met President Erdogan.>>This was a particularly tense time after
the mosque attacks. The relationship with Turkey, that historically
has been very good, has taken a bit of a bump. And it’s my view that this cross-party Speaker’s
delegation was able to sort of resettle the relationship between New Zealand and Turkey.>>New Zealanders might find it hard to believe,
but we had a diverse group of members of Parliament who went away, who worked really well together
in the interests of the country. I’ll always remember the trip, but, more importantly,
I think that each of us made a real contribution and can make a difference to how well our
country goes socially, culturally, and economically in the long term by doing this sort of work.

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