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New Zealand celebrates day of national unity

Update: February, 06/2015 - 08:43

Top assets: New Zealand prides itself on its cuisine, wine and friendly people. — Photos courtesy of New Zealand Embassy

On the occasion of New Zealand's National Day on February 6, Viet Nam News presents an article written by New Zealand Ambassador to Viet Nam Haike Manning

There is a famous proverb from the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori:

He aha te mea nui o te ao

What is the most important thing in the world?

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata It is the people, it is the people, it is the people

I thought much about this proverb yesterday, as I officially launched a year of activities to mark the milestone of 40 years of diplomatic relations and friendship between New Zealand & Viet Nam in 2015.

Our launch was timed to coincide with Waitangi Day, New Zealand's national day. February 6, 2015 marks 175 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the Maori and the British Crown.

The Treaty is the foundation for the enduring partnership between Maori and other New Zealanders.

Our relationship with Viet Nam has flourished and grown immeasurably since formal bilateral relations commenced on 19 June 1975.

There are many "formal" highlights from the first 40 years of bilateral relations, such the opening of the NZ Embassy in Ha Noi in 1995, the NZ Consulate in HCMC in 1995, the opening of the Vietnamese Embassy in New Zealand in 2003; so too the signing of two critical agreements: a Comprehensive Partnership between NZ and Viet Nam in 2009, and the ASEAN-Australia-NZ FTA in 2010.

But it is also important to look at the growth in the relationship from a "human" perspective – looking at links that are visible and directly meaningful to the people of our two countries. For example:

* Our education relationship – starting with our Colombo Plan scholarships in the 1960s and 1970s and continuing today. I am proud NZ has been able to support generations of young Vietnamese to experience life in New Zealand, get a great education and become life-long advocates for New Zealand in Viet Nam in return.

* Our tourism links – more than 30,000 Kiwis visited Viet Nam last year; each of them goes back with a little piece of Viet Nam in their hearts (and probably in their backpacks).

* Tastes of NZ in Viet Nam, and of Viet Nam in NZ – Vietnamese consumers are becoming increasingly familiar with New Zealand dairy products, apples, kiwifruit and wine available here. In the other direction, New Zealanders are getting an increasing taste for Vietnamese products, including coffee, pepper, cashews, clothing, cellphones and tropical fruits.

* Our long term development assistance to Viet Nam – in the last three years to the tune of over US$30 million – is bringing practical and sustainable benefits to the Vietnamese people.

As we look forward to our series of activities and events planned in Viet Nam during 2015, we want to showcase New Zealand, and ‘speak to the heart' of the Vietnamese people. We will be telling the "New Zealand Story" here in Viet Nam, based on the themes of Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Spaces:

* Open Hearts, because Kiwis have a reputation as being some of the friendliest and open people in the world;

* Open Minds, because New Zealand is a land that prizes education and innovation, and has a long history of providing international students – including many Vietnamese – with a high quality education in a beautiful, safe environment; and

* Open Spaces because of the sheer beauty of our diverse, unique landscapes, which are enjoyed by millions of tourists every year, and which form the incredible backdrop to films such as The Hobbit.

So I hope we will convince many Vietnamese to visit our country! In 2014 I was pleased to appoint Ms Jennifer Pham as New Zealand's tourism envoy in Viet Nam, and Jennifer will continue to help us make New Zealand more familiar to you.

Our events in 2015 include a NZ education and culture roadshow visiting a number of cities in Viet Nam; an exciting fashion collaboration involving teams of New Zealand and Vietnamese fashion students working together to produce collections; and a visit to Viet Nam by a famous New Zealand chef.

One of the best ways in staying in touch with what we are doing here in Viet Nam is through our Facebook page: Please join the 100,000 fans who already follow us, to learn more about New Zealand, and the engagement between New Zealand and Viet Nam!

So you'll be seeing more of New Zealand in Viet Nam during 2015 – keep an eye out for us! Until then, and as Tet approaches, I wish you and your families a prosperous, healthy and happy Year of the Goat. — VNS

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