News 23 May 2017
Matua Shane Jones has shared his gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), for enabling him to find part of his heritage during his three year post as New Zealand’s Pacific Economic Ambassador.
Dignitaries, politicians, businesspeople and other Pacific contacts gathered at The University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika on Monday to send off the vibrant and dynamic Matua, whose work in the region has impacted many.
The former Cabinet Minister says he has enjoyed his time as Pacific Ambassador during which he has become more knowledgeable and experienced in foreign affairs and Pacific issues.
Of Maori descent (Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto), as well as having English, Welsh and Croatian ancestry, Matua says his time in the role has also put him in touch with his whakapapa in the Pacific.
His efforts in the region over the past three years include leading initiatives to achieve sustainable management for the tuna resource in the Pacific; engaging with Pacific leaders and forming strong regional relationships; leading educational Pacific Futures forums to create domestic awareness around regional issues; and advocating for Pacific labour mobility initiatives and the PACER Plus trade agreement, which will be signed by Pacific leaders in June.
Matua’s ability to connect with a diverse range of stakeholders and communities was evident at his farewell attended by approximately 200 guests.
Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) Chief Executive Officer Laulu Mac Leauanae performed the Master of Ceremony duties, introducing guest speakers, including former Foreign Affairs Minister, Honorable Murray McCully MP.
Mr McCully says Matua has impacted many areas in the region, but it is fisheries where he has instigated the most change.
Matua has carried the debate on the need to sustain the tuna industry and for Pacific countries to protect their valuable resources from threats from afar, Mr McCully says.
“Dare I say it, the debate has been largely won and while there is a lot of work to be done, there is a lot of progress in place, and the political buy-in is there.”
Mr McCully paid thanks to Matua and for “showing the face of New Zealand, as we wish to be shown to the rest of the Pacific”.
Andrew Needs, the Assistant Secretary of MFAT’s Pacific Branch also spoke at the event, listing Matua’s many achievements, and how MFAT will miss all that he contributes.
“Matua is a leader in his own right, he has a big personality, and genuine expertise – we are lucky to have all of that in Shane Jones.”
Rachel Afeakai Taumoepeau spoke on behalf of the business and Pasifika communities, and shared the impact their Maori brother has had on them, before inviting members of the Tongan community to waiata.
Matua has set the bar high in his capacity as Pacific Ambassador, and no doubt he will continue to do so in whatever he does next.
His contract officially ends on May 31.
(Main picture caption: Shane Jones with his fiancee Dot Pumipi at his farewell.)