Nurturing and strengthening New Zealand’s relationship with Pacific giant Papua New Guinea is of paramount importance for the new Head of Mission to PNG, HE Sue Mackwell (pictured).
In a show of support for the new HOM, the NZ-PNG Business Council staged a reception in Auckland, on Thursday, where Sue shared her aims and goals for her new posting.
Sue, who will start her three-year post in Port Moresby next week, is the first to admit she has not had the traditional diplomatic background but is very excited about her new appointment by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
“This is my first Head of Mission (HOM) post – I haven’t had the standard career of a HOM,” Sue says.
She has worked in the public sector with Foreign Affairs and has had posts to Paris and Kuala Lumpur, while more recently she was the National Children’s Director of the Children’s Action Plan, following a term as Deputy Chief Executive, Social Service Policy and Social Sector Strategy at the Ministry of Social Development.
When the opportunity to go to PNG arose, Sue says she was inspired to take it up and see if she can make a difference in PNG after working with some of the most vulnerable Maori and Pacific communities in New Zealand, she says.
By building and maintaining good relationships, both NZ’s and PNG’s people can benefit, she adds.
“PNG is one of our largest aid and development partners in the Pacific – it has huge resources, a big (approximately nine million) population, people with expertise – there is so much opportunity there to tap into if people choose to.”
There are some poignant events coming up in PNG, which NZ will be involved with the planning of, including the preparation for APEC 2018.
“We are working alongside the Government and others to ensure it’s a success … and we also have the Bougainville Referendum coming up in 2019 at this stage,” Sue explains.
New Zealand already views PNG as a trusted partner, and part of Sue’s role will be continuing to nurture the countries’ relationship, particularly trade and the people to people side of things, she says.
“I really hope to open up communication lines, so people can understand in terms of aid what we are doing – in renewable energy and agriculture – getting produce to market.”
Security is always a hot topic in PNG with ex-pats, but Sue says the key is to put safety first and to be sensible.
Sue takes over the reins from the departing HOM Tony Fautua in PNG on April 18.
Following Sue’s welcome, guests to the NZPNG Business Council After 5 event heard from International Logistics Manager at Mapai (NZ) Limited Grant Wakeley.
Mapai Group is a logistics business covering road transport, custom clearance and freight forwarding, which commenced operations in PNG in 1985.
Grant provided a fascinating overview of doing business in PNG, but also what drives him and other businesses to keep working there, which includes helping the local people to thrive.
Visit NZPNGBC to become a member of the NZ PNG Business Council or for more information.