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Labour of love gets honorable recognition

10th July
For immediate release:

Labour of love gets honorable recognition

Falling in love with the daughter of a Bata shoe designer has opened the doors to the Czech Republic for Kiwi lawyer, Gregory Shanahan.

Mr Shanahan, a partner in law firm Rudd Watts & Stone, has been appointed as the first Auckland Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic. The consulate, based at Rudd Watts & Stone’s Auckland offices, will be opened on July 11 by the visiting Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Martin Palous.

Mr Shanahan’s foreign affairs background is steeped in history. His father, Foss Shanahan with two others, established the Foreign Service (now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade). His brother Paul Shanahan has held a number of diplomatic postings overseas and is presently a senior official with the World Trade Organisation based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr Shanahan was nominated by the Wellington Honorary Consul, Miroslav (Mirik) Paulik, a friend of both Mr Shanahan and his wife Vlasta. Mrs Shanahan’s father, Josef Vlcek, was principal designer for Czech shoe company, Bata, when he moved to Wellington with his family in the late 1950s. At that stage, Bata had three factories in New Zealand, at Island Bay and Wainuiomata in Wellington and in Wanganui.

Mr Shanahan met his future wife at Victoria University, and through her became involved in the close-knit Czech community in Wellington at the time.

“When I lived in Wellington I got to know Mirik. I speak a limited number of Czech words, but I have been involved with the Czech community for a long time and Mirik asked if he could put my name forward,” Mr Shanahan said.

He was interviewed by senior officials during a visit to Prague last year, and the appointment was confirmed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Jan Kavan, last month.

Mr Shanahan said the Czech Republic was keen to foster business relationships with Auckland businesses and the community in general.

“The Czech Republic and New Zealand have similar opportunities in developing their engineering, IT and film industries among others. Prague is also one of the great European centres of learning, going back to Roman times, and we see huge potential for student exchanges and tourism links between the two countries.”

While trade with the Republic is small, Mr Shanahan believes it will increase as international trade is encourged and the Republic forms new trade alliances. His role is to encourage exchange of information, helping Czech visitors and migrants to adapt to New Zealand, and through Rudd Watts’ networks in the New Zealand business community, act as a catalyst for increasing trade with the Czech Republic.

Ends


For further information, please contact:

Greg Shanahan
Rudd Watts & Stone
Ph (09) 353 9766

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