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Harley Celebrations Highlight Nz/Us Relations

Harley Celebrations Highlight Depth Of Nz/Us Relations

New Zealand may be a small Pacific island nation by American standards, but the presence of 400 Kiwis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the Harley Davidson centenary celebration, is testament to the unique historical links, existing between our two countries, says New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States, John Wood.

Mr Wood is in Milwaukee Wisconsin for an official two day visit to the New Zealand contingent of Harley Owners Group members [HOG]. They arrived in the city on Saturday to spend 10 days at the world’s biggest party, the Harley Davidson 100th birthday bash. The Kiwis claim they’re finally in “Hog Heaven”.

Mr Wood said one group of sixty HOG members has spent a month riding their Harleys across America. They’ve travelled to Milwaukee through eight states, met thousands of people, and achieved their lifetime dream to ride their bikes 5,000 miles from Vancouver Canada, to be at these celebrations.

“This Kiwi group has seven vintage Harleys, & some are over 75 years old. The logistics, the organisation, preparation & planning of this project has taken eight years. The huge success it has enjoyed is a due credit to those who conceived the idea. As goodwill ambassadors on the road all the Kiwis here have portrayed themselves in an exemplary manner. They’ve carried the nation’s flags, emblems and souvenirs with pride. Riding their Harleys across America has enhanced New Zealand’s profile in the United States significantly,” he said.

‘New Zealand is remote and often described in the United States media as being a small, even tiny, island country in the South West Pacific, But it’s actually the same size as Colorado, or a little larger than Japan, or the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland if you prefer. We are divided into two main islands, poetically named the North Island, and the South Island.

Even for our size we have a very large population of some 130 millions – comprising 12 million beef & dairy cattle and farmed deer, 38 million sheep, and over 80 million possums. There are just 4 million people though.’

“New Zealand and the United States have a long history as partners in war having fought side by side in every major conflict of the 20th Century. Just this week more than 100 New Zealand military personnel have taken up duty in Afghanistan,” Mr Wood said.

“We had military personnel severely injured in last weeks bombing outside the United Nations compound in Baghdad. Several New Zealanders also died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 911” he said.

‘This current visit by our group of intrepid Kiwis to Milwaukee, gives increasing impetus to the growth in business and tourism opportunities existing in both our countries. The United States market is an extremely important one for our New Zealand exporters.

New Zealanders are great consumers of American products, and the United States is a major source of imports into New Zealand. Our trade relationship is further enhanced by significant investment in both directions, and the increasing number of US tourists who are visiting our country.

As good as the current economic relationship is, it has the potential to be much better, in the interests of both countries. The best way for this to happen is through the United States and New Zealand, entering into a Free Trade Agreement.’

“Global trade and investment liberalisation is strongly in the interests of the New Zealand economy and its people, and with Congressional support for such an agreement slowly gathering momentum, it will eventually be a highly successful and satisfying achievement for both countries,” said Mr Wood.

“Thousands of people throughout the United States have been exceedingly generous and hospitable to our Kiwi HOG members while they’ve been riding their Harleys across America. They know we enjoy a good party too,” he said

‘Many friendships have been made. Business initiatives and extended networks have been developed. While high levels of internal security are presently necessary, in every circumstance, the human side of all our cargo facilitation by US Customs & other agencies and authorities has been simply superb.’

“On behalf of all New Zealanders present for this auspicious and historical occasion, I invite all Americans to visit us down under where the fellowship you extended to our Harley riders will be fully reciprocated,” Mr Wood said.

The Ambassador is likely to take an opportunity to ride pillion on a Harley during his visit, but he may also take to the air in a 1929 vintage aircraft while at the official Harley Davidson luncheon for more than 700 Australian and New Zealand riders at Pioneer Airport at Oshkosh Wisconsin on Friday.

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