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Peters: Fulbright NZ Awards Presentation Ceremony

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Embargoed until 6pm, 19 June 2008
Speech Notes

Fulbright NZ Awards Presentation Ceremony

Banquet Hall, Parliament
6.00pm, 19 June 2008

Ambassador McCormick, Fulbright award sponsors, Fulbright alumni, Fulbright grantees and families; ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here today to present the Fulbright Awards for 2008; the 60th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the Fulbright programme.

Since 1948, the Fulbright programme has played a major role in forging close bonds between New Zealand and the United States.

It has enabled thousands of New Zealand and American citizens to live in each other’s countries and learn from one another.

In doing so, the programme has certainly lived up to Senator William Fulbright’s vision of promoting friendship, knowledge, and understanding between the people of the US and New Zealand.

It is part of our common history and holds great promise for the future.

New Zealand was the fifth country to sign up to the Fulbright programme and since then we have sent more than 1,400 New Zealand graduate students, artists, academics and professionals to the United States.

In return we have welcomed more than 1,100 Americans on exchanges here.

Harriet Fulbright, the widow of the late Senator William Fulbright, visited New Zealand last December to launch Fulbright New Zealand’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Mrs Fulbright also recently attended a gala dinner hosted by the New Zealand Embassy in Washington to mark this significant anniversary.

While in New Zealand Mrs Fulbright commended all Fulbright scholars for their courage and commitment to learning about another culture and society.
The value of the personal bonds that have developed through the Fulbright programme cannot be overestimated.

In Maoridom there is a saying: he aha te mea nui o te ao? he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. This translates as "What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, the people, the people."

For 60 years the Fulbright programme has been the path by which many prominent New Zealanders and Americans have established long-term friendships. These have often led to fulfilling careers in a diverse range of fields that have made a difference to our two societies.

Examples include Nobel Prize winning scientist Alan MacDiarmid and former Prime Minister and Ambassador to the United States Sir Wallace Rowling.

Just as the number of Fulbright scholars and alumni grows ever larger, so too do the links between us; broadening and deepening the relationship between our two countries

The Fulbright programme is perhaps equalled only by our co-operation in Antarctica as an example of positive collaboration and friendship between New Zealand and the United States.

Ambassador McCormick put it succinctly last year when he said that our relationship is the strongest it has been in decades.

Fulbright New Zealand is jointly funded by the US and New Zealand governments with additional funding from award sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors.

What is perhaps less well known, is that New Zealand is one of few countries where the host government contributes more to the programme than the US government, which is a great indicator of the value we place on the programme.

The New Zealand government's contribution totals more than $1.4 million , allocated through the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Research, Science and Technology. In addition, the Earthquake Commission and Creative New Zealand also sponsor individual awards.

This year, two of the 40 recipients of the International Fulbright Science and Technology Awards selected from worldwide nominations are New Zealanders. This highlights the strength of New Zealand's education system in a global context.

To those New Zealanders who have received Fulbright awards, congratulations on earning this prestigious honour and all the best for travel and study in the United States.

You follow in the footsteps of alumni such as education pioneers Dame Marie Clay and Dame Jean Herbison, judge Sir Kenneth Keith, literary greats Allen Curnow, C. K. Stead and Witi Ihimaera, and historians Jamie Belich and Michael King.

You should feel confident that you are about to make a contribution to two societies that share the best of everything: a strong commitment to liberty, justice, democracy, and human rights.

We look forward to hearing about your many achievements to come.

Welcome also to the American recipients of Fulbright Awards who are already here. New Zealand remains a popular choice for Americans in the programme - this year there were 98 applications for the 10 US graduate awards available to study or research New Zealand in 2009.

We hope that your time here will be challenging and fulfilling, and professionally productive. We encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities that New Zealand has to offer, and we are sure you will make many life long friends.

Finally ladies and gentleman, I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to former US Ambassador to New Zealand, Anne Martindell, who passed away recently in the United States.

Ambassador Martindell was a very good friend to New Zealand both during her formal period as Ambassador from 1979-1981, but also in later years. She did much to encourage and foster relations between our two countries, most notably in helping to establish the US-NZ Council.

The fact she chose to visit New Zealand last year, at the age of 93, to attend the US-NZ Partnership Forum speaks volumes for her love for New Zealand.

We will remember her fondly and respectfully.

Congratulations once again to all Fulbright grantees and alumni here tonight.

May you to continue to live up to the Fulbright vision ‘to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason and a little more compassion into world affairs’.

You are a testament to the best of both New Zealand and the United States.


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