News 27 Aug 2017
After four years in Samoa as New Zealand High Commissioner, there is plenty Jackie Frizelle misses about the Pacific nation – particularly its people.
However, she is fast acclimatising to Wellington life, and has some hefty goals to kick in her new role as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (MFAT) Divisional Manager Polynesia, Realm countries and French Pacific.
Jackie transitioned to the role earlier in the year, and she says so far it has gone well.
“New Zealand seems very comfortable and confident; and everyone has got older,” Jackie says.
“I try not to complain about the cold and my daughter Aine is getting used to the concept of shoes.”
Jackie is very pleased to be in a role where she can build off ideas from her time in Samoa, she adds.
Highlights of her time in Samoa include the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference in 2014.
“It was outstanding and incredible to have so many global leaders in Samoa discussing what it means to be a small isolated developing country and committing to new ideas.”
Samoa delivered an outstanding and truly Samoan event, which Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) helped to facilitate, running the Pacific Village.
“But for sheer joy, being involved in the first ever Manu Samoa v All Blacks game on Samoa’s home turf can’t be beaten,” she says.
“It was unforgettable – and I used to think kiwis were the most passionate rugby fans in the world.”
Going forward, her learnings and experiences in Samoa will be invaluable.
“I learnt patience – not because it is slow – quite the opposite.
“Samoa is a busy, vibrant go-ahead place but it’s a small country with a lot of good people trying to make a lot of changes at once.
“There is only so much capacity, with a big development agenda and a lot being asked of it,” she says.
The difference good leadership can make, at all levels of society, government and business has been another key learning for Jackie.
Now she is settled into the MFAT Divisional Manager position, Jackie is concentrating on tasks she aims to achieve this year.
These include exploring opportunities where NZ and Polynesian countries have shared interests and how these can be taken forward, which involves working closely with the Ministry of Pacific People (MPP) and the Pacific diaspora.
“I am also keen to take stock of the big picture for each of our country partnerships and ensure we have a clear sense of where we headed over the next 20 years and what that means for our priorities in the shorter term.”
Along with these goals, Jackie and her team are ensuring NZ’s development assistance is focused on the right things, which will make a positive difference.
“We have an awesome team here in Wellington and our posts and they are kicking those goals.”
Visit MFAT for more information about MFAT’s work in the Pacific region.
(Picture caption: Jackie with her daughter Aine sailing on the Gaualofa – Samoa’s voyager canoe.)