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Opportunity for insights into international affairs

The Wairarapa branch of the NZ Institute of International Affairs – a non-profit organisation open to anyone interested in understanding the importance of global affairs to the political and economic well-being of New Zealand – has released its April-December 2024 programme, which coordinator Scott Thomson describes as a master-class worthy line-up of high profile speakers.

“We don’t take sides, but we go for insider views,” Thomson said. “And the speakers at our first two meetings are real insiders.”

Anna Powles, who is speaking tonight [18 April] comes from a third generation of New Zealanders with distinguished associations in the South Pacific.

“We used to think of New Zealand as a father figure for the South Pacific Forum countries,” Thomson noted. “Now priorities of their own are driving relations between island states and with Wellington.”

The organisation’s guest on May 16 will be Her Excellency Omur Unsay, Ambassador for Turkey, who comes from a country that has a key role regarding events in Ukraine and Gaza.

Turkey, Thomson pointed out, balances NATO membership and Islamic faith with internal issues, and is in the midst of the aftermath of natural disasters that have left 50,000 dead.

On June 20, UK Deputy High Commissioner John Pearson will talk at the Institute about his country’s aspirations, in defence and trade, for ‘Global Britain’ – an example of ho “traditional partnerships are changing,” Thomson said, with the United Kingdom having started to think more globally since Brexit.

Australian High Commissioner Harinder Sidhu will provide a perspective on regional security concerns on August 15, which will provide insights in the changing priorities between Wellington and Canberra.

“The Aukus alliance shows Australia is deadly serious about security issues, and they have a confident economy to support their position as a major regional power,” he observed.

“While New Zealand has a hollowed out defence force reflecting a relaxed perception of security, and continual concern about the economy.”

And with the American presidential election looming, former New Zealand ambassador Rosemary Banks will talk to the Institute about September 19 about the challenges of doing business in Washington.

    Interested members of the public are welcome at the meetings in the auditorium of Rosewood Funeral Home, 417 Queen Street, Masterton, beginning at 7.30pm on the third Thursday of each month. For more information, see nziia.org.nz

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