US/NZ Council’s burst of activity

Article – Connie Lawn

The United States – New Zealand Council has seen a burst of activity under its new President, William Maroni.The United States – New Zealand Council has seen a burst of activity under its new President, William Maroni.

On October 23, the Council hosted a dinner for David Huebner, the US Ambassador to New Zealand. He has also done a great deal to re-charge the NZ – US relationship, and elevate it to a higher level of cooperation. In many ways, it is closer than in has been in 70 years. I

t includes military exercises, visits by three US Cabinet secretaries, and parades by the US Marine Band! There are thousands of other Americans who would welcome the chance to visit NZ. But they can also get involved in many US -NZ activities.

We asked US -NZ President Maroni to send us a text of his statements delivered at the recent dinner:

“The United States | New Zealand Council has become more active, visible and influential in 2012. The non-profit organization has hosted six events in the past eight months for its members, friends and supporters, including:

– A luncheon address by former New Zealand Prime Minister Rt Hon James Bolger. (March)

– A private briefing and discussion with Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Barbara Weisel, the chief U.S. negotiator in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. (May)

– A presentation and book signing by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Hackett Fischer, who wrote Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies – New Zealand and the United States. This event was live-streamed to New Zealand audiences. Professor Fischer was joined by New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, and U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), who serves as co-chair of the Friends of New Zealand Congressional Caucus. (June)

– A luncheon in honor of two members of the New Zealand Parliament, Hon Shane Jones and Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who serve as Co-Chairs of the New Zealand – USA Parliamentary Friendship Group promoting greater understanding between the New Zealand Parliament and the U.S. Congress. (July)

– A dinner and speech by the Hon Clayton Cosgrove, New Zealand’s Labour Party leader and opposition spokesperson for Commerce, Trade Negotiations, State Owned Enterprises, Small Business and Finance. He is a former Cabinet Minister whose ministerial responsibilities included Immigration, Associate Finance, Building and Construction, Associate Justice, Small Business, Sport and the Rugby World Cup. (September)

– A dinner and speech by U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner, who has been posted in Wellington since 2009. (October)

“In addition, the US | NZ Council was one of the prominent sponsors of the Coalition for Service Industries (CSI) “Services Summit” in Washington, DC in September, where New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser was a featured speaker.

“Next month, the US | NZ Council will launch the first-ever internship program on Capitol Hill. Four New Zealand university students will spend 10 weeks working in the congressional offices of Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX), George Miller (D-CA), and Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT). This is a tangible example of how the Council is investing in the future of a stronger US – NZ relationship. The goal is to grow this program each year, so that both U.S. and NZ university students have an opportunity to participate in government internships in Washington and Wellington.

“In the coming months, we’ll be preparing for the 2013 US-NZ Pacific Partnership Forum, a larger, more diverse conference of business, government and opinion leaders in Washington, DC on May 19 – 21. Previous Partnership Forums were held in 2006 in Washington, 2007 in Auckland, 2009 in Washington, and in February 2011 in Christchurch. This last Forum was tragically cut short due to the earthquake. The 2013 Forum will address broader regional issues in Asia-Pacific and involve more than twice as many presenters, attendees, and topics, including a report on how New Zealanders and U.S. supporters are working to transform Christchurch into a model city of the future.

“The United States | New Zealand Council is inviting organizations to be highly-involved sponsors of the 2013 Partnership Forum in May as well as to help expand the Council’s internship program.”

From William Maroni, President, United States -New Zealand Council

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