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MFAT Auckland office open for business


23 February 2005

MFAT Auckland office open for business

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s new Auckland office opened today, headed by career diplomat and Aucklander René Wilson.

The Ministry has established an Auckland base to improve its links with key interests in the Auckland region, including business and community groups, local government, non-government organisations, and academics.

Auckland Office Director René Wilson said the size and influence of Auckland on the national economy meant it was important that MFAT was represented there.

“Understanding Auckland perspectives matters to the Government in developing its foreign policy priorities,” Mr Wilson said. “I want to develop good working relationships with Auckland interests, so we can keep them informed of foreign policy developments and hear their viewpoints.

“One of my initial priorities will be ensuring Auckland business is aware of the opportunities being opened up by the rapidly-expanding trade negotiations agenda, and that MFAT is listening hard to the views of Auckland business on these developments. New Zealand is now at varying stages of negotiating agreements with China, Thailand, Chile/Singapore, ASEAN/Australia, and possibly Malaysia.

“But this job is not just about business and trade. MFAT’s work covers a diverse and expanding field, including environment, international law, disarmament and human rights. I want to engage with groups that are interested in the full range of foreign policy issues and country-to-country relations.”

René Wilson was previously Director of the Ministry’s Pacific Division in Wellington. “That required considerable contact with Auckland’s Pacific Island communities, which will be valuable in my new role,” he said.

Mr Wilson has been New Zealand’s High Commissioner to South Africa and a former Deputy Secretary-General of the South Pacific Forum. He has also been posted to Tokyo, Jakarta and Bangkok. He was a political studies lecturer at Auckland University before joining the Ministry in 1975.

MFAT’s Auckland office is co-located with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in central Auckland.

ENDS

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