Hon. Paula Bennett address: Growing our linkages with Latin America
Victoria University, Level 4, 50 Kitchener Street, Auckland
The first of three great May events for the Council took place on Thursday May 19th, when New Zealand's fifth-ranked minister the Hon. Paula Bennett addressed three dozen members or friends at Victoria University of Wellington's Auckland offices.
After a warm welcome from LANZBC President (and VUW senior official) Matthew O'Meagher, who had traveled with her on Air New Zealand's inaugural flight to Buenos Aires last year, Minister Bennett spoke at length on two of her portfolios, tourism and climate change,with particular reference to two countries in the region, Argentina and Brazil.
Among the points she highlighted were the numbers of 'Emerging Considerers' in these countries contemplating travel to New Zealand; the quadrupling of arrival numbers between New Zealand and Argentina already since the advent of direct flights; the shared priority of regional governments to attract tourists beyond traditional destinations; the challenges New Zealand, Argentina and Brazil all face in meeting their Paris climate change commitments; the search for scientific solutions to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions; and the success of the first meeting between Prime Minister Key and Argentine President Mauricio Macri. In addition, the Minister responded to questions on energy sector interactions, language proficiency, visa processing and connections with Panama (beyond the Panama Papers!)
All who attended appreciated the openness of the Minister and her willingness to engage with their concerns. As a bonus, they also enjoyed the spontaneous comments that were kindly offered by Sir Don McKinnon, our patron who had opened NZ's Embassy in Argentina in the late 1990s, and Air New Zealand's Duncan Small, who emphasised the centrality of people-to-people connections, including rugby and student ties, and Auckland's position as the quickest way to get from China to South America.