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Parekura Horomia - Korean Ambassadors Dinner Spch.

Hon. Parekura Horomia
DELIVERED Thursday 19 April 2001 SPEECH

Distinguished guests (details to be supplied later)

I am delighted to be here this evening. The city and citizens of Busan have a special place in the history of NZ’s relations with Korea. Because it was in Busan just over 50 years ago that New Zealand troops as part of the United Nations contingent landed during the Korean War. The main purpose of my visit is to accompany a large party of New Zealand veterans and our Chief of Defence Force as we remember those dark days 50 years ago and the sacrifices made by young New Zealanders and other members of the United Nations Command, as well as of course so many Koreans. Tomorrow we shall dedicate a new memorial in the district of Seo-gu (sew-goo) to mark the spot where the first New Zealanders landed and then made their camp.

Those were dark days for Korea and in those days most New Zealanders and Koreans knew very little about one another. We have come on this occasion to remember the past, to honour those who served their country but also to celebrate the success that the Republic of Korea has made of the freedom secured during the Korean War. Already several veterans have commented to me that they can hardly believe Korea today is the place they came to in 1950.

Tonight I want to look forward in New Zealand/Korea relations and to celebrate the very friendly and productive relations between our two countries. Many of you here tonight are closely involved in tourism and education. And it is through your efforts that Koreans and New Zealanders know much more about each other than was the case 50 years ago. It is through the friendships that are formed by visiting and studying in each other’s countries that real understanding and harmony develops. I am pleased to tell you that in the last year 70,000 Koreans have visited New Zealand as tourists. This was up 37% on the previous year. We welcome that and thank you for your hard work in promoting New Zealand. 10,000 New Zealanders, which is an even larger proportion of our total population which is only 3.8 million, visited Korea.

Tourism NZ will be increasing its marketing activity in Korea over the next year to support your efforts. One new initiative will be the development of a Korean language version of Tourism NZ’s website called Travel agents can link their products and services to this site.

In the education area too last year saw remarkable growth in the number of Koreans choosing to study in New Zealand. The number of students at universities and polytechnics was up 40%, those at secondary schools up 50% and those learning English up 60%. Overall the total number of students increased from 2,700 to 4,150. It is a great time to choose New Zealand for studying given the value New Zealand offers and the current exchange rate of the Won to the NZ dollar.

And the traffic is not all one-way. There are now over 450 New Zealanders teaching English in Korea. That too is helping develop people to people links.

We may be two countries separated by geography and by different languages and culture but there are many ties that bind us. And on this occasion we want to acknowledge all of you here tonight who are helping, each in your own way, to build a more peaceful world where we know and appreciate one another better.

I would like to propose a toast to those who first forged Korean/New Zealand friendship to those who build it today. Cheers.


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