By Mara Hosoda, Public Affairs Section, U.S. Consulate, Auckland
On February 2, 2016, U.S. Ambassador Mark Gilbert and Auckland Consul General Melanie Higgins had a day trip to Hamilton to meet with the local government, businesses, iwi and the university. It was a fun-filled day to learn more about existing U.S. and New Zealand connections and to build relationships for the future.
The Hamilton visit started with a trip to the international award-winning Hamilton Gardens. On the personal tour of the gardens with the Director, the Ambassador and Consul General learned about the development of this regional attraction and its strategic tourism business plan.
The Hamilton Garden tour concluded in a meeting with the Mayor’s Office, Hamilton City Council, Waikato Chamber of Commerce and Hamilton Gardens. Hamilton-specific development challenges, especially in the business sector, were discussed for opportunity for collaboration.
The Ambassador and Consul General then caught up with the cultural branch of Waikato Tainui. This branch aligns with the commercial arm and focuses on social, cultural, and environmental areas. They learned about the major achievements of Waikato Tainui – for example their award-winning iwi environmental plan, membership growth, and distributions to the marae, elders, and iwi at large. Waikato Tainui has graciously hosted many American visitors in the past, including academics and speakers. It was a great opportunity to discuss future cultural exchange opportunities, especially on indigenous issues.
The trip included meetings with Hamilton-based businesses to discuss U.S. trade connections: these included aircraft manufacturer Pacific Aerospace, construction and road transport company Tidd Ross Todd, and dairy technology outfit Waikato Milking Systems. The Ambassador and Consul General were updated on all the companies’ activities and plans regarding the United States. All the business meetings offered a fruitful chance to share what activities are going on and to see where further work could be done.
The Hamilton trip concluded with the Ambassador giving the annual Cooley Law School Krinock Lecture and touring the University of Waikato with the Law School. For details on that speech check out our other blog post.