In the lead-up to Easter, U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown visited Ashburton, Christchurch, and Wanaka to promote linkages with the United States.
In Ashburton on March 28, Ambassador Brown spoke to the local Rotary Club Dinner after visiting the South Island Seed Dressing Company and calling on the local Mayor, Donna Favel, and members of the District Council. The Ambassador enjoyed seeing one of New Zealand’s key farming heartlands, and acknowledged New Zealand as a global player in this sector. He pointed out that one of his main jobs is to seek Kiwi investment into the American economy and to promote U.S. exports, but also that a healthy commercial relationship works both ways. He wants to see more trade and more investment in both directions – not just more John Deere tractors on New Zealand farms. The sister city relationship between Ashburton and Pulaski, Virginia, and the partnership between South Canterbury seed growers and American farmers, were both good examples of this two-way relationship.
In Christchurch on March 29, Ambassador Brown met with young Pasifika leaders from the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation (PYLAT) Council. He found the work PYLAT does to be inspirational, and applauded their efforts to facilitate young people participating in the democratic process. This is a shared underpinning of both the U.S. and New Zealand – our democratic foundation as free-market democracies – and part of what makes both countries great places to live. After a visit to the new Canterbury dog squad base, the Ambassador toured Te Omeka – the new Canterbury Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, and was briefed on civil defense management and the Integrated Safety Response (ISR) to Domestic Violence. He applauded the Police teams who help keep visiting American nationals – and Kiwis – safe in Canterbury, and especially the whole-of-whanau approach to addressing the evils of family violence. After hosting a lunch with the senior management of the local mana whenua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ambassador Brown took the opportunity to welcome incoming U.S. Air Force F-16 and C-17 demonstrator teams at Christchurch Airport.
Travelling to Wanaka for the 30th Anniversary Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow on March 30-31, Ambassador Brown also met with local mayor, Tim Cadogan and Deputy Mayor Neil Gillespie. At a meeting hosted by Marquis Sauvage at his delightful Burn Cottage Vineyard, Mt. Pisa, the Ambassador also met Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) Chair Brian Sanders. A highlight of the Wanaka visit was Warbirds Over Wanaka, where the U.S. Airforce demonstrators proudly acted as ambassadors themselves for U.S. aeronautical technology and flying prowess. It was great to see and hear about other U.S. aircraft – from the vintage warbirds, to those in service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, such as the Boeing B-757 and Hercules C-130 transport. By happy coincidence Ambassador Brown also managed to meet local MP Jacqui Dean and Opposition Leader Simon Bridges, who were also attending the airshow.
Overall, it was a great few days to visit the beautiful “Mainland” – and a chance to better understand and further promote a very diverse range of aspects of the warm relations that exists between the U.S. and New Zealand.