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Ambassador Beeman Moves On With Kiwi Daughter

Departing US Ambassador Josiah Beeman - photo USIA

Tomorrow marks the changing of the guard at the United States Embassy as Ambassador Josiah Beeman, his wife Susan, and their 6 month-old New Zealand-born daughter Olivia, leave our shores. John Howard reports.

Ambassador Beeman was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa in April 1994.

During his tenure, U.S. - New Zealand relations have markedly improved including historic visits by Prime Minister Jim Bolger to meet with President Clinton at the White House in March 1995. This visit marked the first time in over 12 years that a New Zealand Prime Minister had visited the White House.

That visit was followed by Prime Minister Jenny Shipley's visit in January this year.

When President Clinton visited for APEC and the State visit following, it was the first time in 32 years that a United States President had visited. "That was a significant indication of how much the relationship has improved," Ambassador Beeman said in a recent interview.

"When I took up my duties as United States Ambassador, among my goals was to stengthen the bilateral relationship and to promote increased trade and investment between our two countries. I am happy to be able to claim a certain measure of success in both those goals."

"The generous warmth of New Zealander's combined with a willingness to engage in frank and friendly discussion, has made my task an enjoyable one," he said.

"These successes are to some extent due to remarkable similarities between our two countries - both countries have forged new identities apart from our colonial roots , both countries are immigrant societies, and both our societies are based on the rule of law and the rights and responsibilities of the individual citizen."

"Our common values have led us to stand shoulder to shoulder through every major conflict in this century. It must be admitted that we have had some differences in the area of defence, but disagreements are inevitable between sovereign and independent countries. But democratic societies have the enormous advantage that they can engage in open and honest dialogue to address those disagreements."

"During my tenure as Ambassador, I have been privileged to witness the development of a vibrant economic partnership between the United States and New Zealand."

"Possessing two of the most deregulated and open trading economies in the world we have built a practical economic alliance based on a shared commitment to freeing up the global marketplace and on a common belief that freer trade and more open investment can improve the living conditions of our citizens."

"The United States has absorbed a dramatic increase in goods from Asia contributing to what has been the largest trade deficit in our history. We have been basically taking up the shock from the Asian financial crisis and that is why we are pushing very hard to open more markets in Asia. Significantly, New Zealand is one of the major beneficiaries when we open those doors."

"I am confident that our two countries will remain in the forefront of those shaping the new economic infrastructure of the coming century, Ambassador Beeman said.

The Ambassador is renowned in New Zealand for his unique collection of antique walking sticks, which have been displayed in several of our museums.

In July, he took over as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps becoming in the process, the longest serving resident head of mission in New Zealand. The position of Dean is held by the senior diplomatic representative in New Zealand.

The Deanship is a significant job in the diplomatic community acting as its voice in the day-to-day relations with the Government, representing other missions at formal events such as ANZAC Day and hosting diplomatic functions. The Deanship also provides a sense of continuity between diplomats and Government.

We are Scoop say farewell to Ambassador Beeman and his family, you and your Embassy staff can be proud of your achievements and of the warm relationships which you have all have helped to foster between our two countries. God speed! Kia Kaha.

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