Last Stop, Tokyo

When you’re thinking about dream cities, you’re instantly bombarded with images of Parisian wining, Italian dining, or the great New York adventure. After a while, as fantasy turns into a comprehensive bucket-list, you begin to remember less mainstream, equally dreamy cities.

What would Tokyo be like?


I’m glad you asked.

Tokyo is beautiful at sunrise, kindness and quirks and some damn tasty food. More so than that, however, Tokyo has been an industrial, innovative, technological paradise since the end of World War II. As we learnt after an incredible meeting with New Zealand Embassy First Secretary Richard Griffin, Japan has been a world leader in the market, boasting the third most successful economy in the world – with a whole lot to show for it. From the likes of Toshiba, Uniqlo, Mitsubishi and Toyota, Japan are not only industry leaders, but many Japanese companies, as we learnt in our meeting with Mitsubishi Electric, implement a series of values such as equality and integrity that enable them to the best of the best.

Japan sets the benchmark.

The educational value gained from our meetings exceeded our expectations. The New Zealand-Japan relationship is one forged from many years of warm relations and interactions. Air New Zealand and the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce Japan taught us that business in the region is only possible if we embrace these relations – involving the youth in opportunities, embracing cultural similarities and celebrating the differences. After all, it is through differences that we grow and continue to shape our unique world view.

The delegation enjoyed a number of incredible experiences – from exploring Harajuku, crossing the world’s busiest pedestrian, Shibuya Crossing, and devouring tasty treats on the city streets, Japan was paradise. As a country that many of us had dreamed about since we were young – finally admiring the sights of the Sensoji Temple, eating sushi in Japan and getting lost amongst in a sea of people and a sea of potential, Japan set the already high benchmark even higher.

The future is brighter than a neon stand outside the Shibuya Mark Mall for Japan, and as architects of the future, it is our right to direct it. May we do this as responsible leaders, friends to our allies, and lifelong learners alongside our neighbours for the many years to come.

Iri Edwards & Holly Sutich

Shanghai, a Highlight

The first glimpse we had of Shanghai was like playing Minecraft with the view distance set to tiny. Everything was shrouded in sheets of grey fog.

Our overnight train pulled in at about 7am: cue the mad half-asleep dash through the metro system with big bags over our shoulders and under our eyes.

We were staying in Yuyuan near the famous gardens of the same name.

After dropping our bags off we got delicious soup dumplings (a first for many of us). A second wind carried us through the day and the gardens will always be a highlight. They were filled with gorgeous ponds and rockeries.

Some of us then went up the Shanghai Tower and were treated to an amazing sunset and view across the city as night fell.

Monday the 25th brought on a full meeting schedule. Mary-Jane Bethell and Suzy Fewtrell briefed us on what New Zealand Central does in providing a space for kiwi businesses to professionally connect with foreign partners. We also learnt about KEA, a global connection of NZ expats.

Our next meeting was with Nicole Mao at PCNZ as well as smaller presentations from the brands within the group such as Villa Maria, Silver Fern Farms and Landcorp. The unique experiences of each business gave us a snapshot of the differences within the Chinese market and highlighted how working collaboratively is incredibly important.

Our final meeting was with the NZ Consulate General. Andrew Robinson and Sarah-Rose Williams gave us a crash course on China as a whole and their roles in the Consul.

Tuesday dawned with two more meetings. First up was Aaron Marsich and Eleni Yianna Hogg from tribal brands Asia. They highlighted their website Bullseye which helps NZ companies find the right channel into the market.

After a hurried snack we started meeting two with Richard Zhu from United Media Solutions. They help NZ companies bridge into the Chinese market by assisting with business and social media strategies. The social media environment is very different to what we are used to. These insights helped us appreciate the waters through which NZ companies must wade, but gave us some insights about how to get successfully out of that moat.

With our meetings in Shanghai completed it was time to don our tourist hats. First we explored Nanjing road and ended up at the Captain for dinner.

We got an early night in preparation for our very early start the next day. Disneyland was on the agenda! An hour on the metro followed by an hour of waiting in line gave us time to get even more excited! Finally the gates were breached and we flooded into Disneyland and straight to the Tron ride. This roller coaster was the first for some of the delegation. It was incredibly exciting see their smiles and grins afterwards despite the nerves.

After Disneyland some people went to the Fake markets to do some shopping.

Then we departed the next day!

Nathan Hotter & Samantha Wood

Guangzhou, Let’s go!

Previously known as Canton and the trading hub of China, we at last arrived in Guangzhou, China!

Guangzhou is the third largest city in China, with a population of over 13 million people, transparently obvious when we were greeted with a vast crowd we battled through with our suitcases to the metro in order to reach our accommodation.

Once we had settled in, a few of us explored the streets of Guangzhou to find a restaurant to eat authentic Chinese dishes, while the rest stayed behind to rest to prepare for a big day of meetings.

The following day, we met with ACG Education, the NZ Consulate General based in Guangzhou, MFAT, Education NZ, Phil Jones the NZ police advisor and Aaron McKenzie – owner of Social & Co restaurant.

Altogether, we concluded the meetings enlightening and informative, as we gained insight to the robust, mature relationship NZ and China has as well as first-hand experiences of what it is like to live in China as a foreigner.

That same evening we had dinner at Aaron’s restaurant – Social & Co. It was one of many highlights for all. We enjoyed an incredible Kiwi styled food platters in China. We had classic Kiwi dishes like steamed NZ mussels, calamari, beer battered fish, fries and pavlova! Aaron’s restaurant is the only restaurant in China that does not serve rice, noodles, like every other Western restaurant in China tends to do.

The next day, a few delegates decided to travel to the Xiaozhou water village, filled with local handmade craft boutiques alongside, artisan cafes providing great tea and rooftop views alongside a river.

Others explored the many malls we struggled to find the exits in, visited temples and shrines as well as the Canton Tower with a 360 view of the whole city, and ended the day with the Chimelong International Circus.

Our last day, unfortunately, was raining. However, it did not prevent us from seeing the Giant Pandas (first time for many), feeding the giraffes and the many selfies taken at the Guangzhou Zoo.

Later that day, we concluded our time in Guangzhou at a traditional Yum Cha restaurant, where we got to taste delicious dumplings, cha seu baos, chicken feet, egg tarts and tea; all leaving the restaurant will full stomachs gradually making our way back to the hotel to make our way to the train station, departing on an overnight train split into four groups squashed in a tiny room trying to fit our luggage in any available gap ready for the 11-hour journey ahead. Some laughing sharing their highlights and lowlights, winding down with face masks and many ear popping later, we arrived at our next destination – Shanghai.

Vaiola Tauti & Nathalie Edwards

Hello Ho Chi Minh!

Ho Chi Minh. A small man with a humble disposition. Ironically, nothing could be more different from such a figure than the city named after him. Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, is a bustling, vibrant whirlwind of colours and lights that don’t care for a second about getting all up in your face. It barely took us any time to realise this as we rolled into town just as the sunset and the streets came to life. After dinner at a balcony restaurant and a short roam through the streets we crashed into bed, arising early the next morning for our tour of the Mekong River Delta.

Our tour guide Ahn cracked jokes and pumped us with facts. One hour later we were on a boat on the delta, exploring mangrove clustered islands where we held live snakes, drunk fermented dead ones and feasted on Vietnamese food. A highlight was a visit to a major Buddhist temple that afternoon, which featured two giant Buddha statues and incredibly beautiful gardens. Our day ended with an amazing shared dinner and a visit to the tallest point in the city. The amazing views over Ho Chi Ming from the Saigon Skydeck simply cannot be put into words. Spread out in front of us, spanning far over the horizon in all directions were a countless number of buildings, broken only by rivers of light formed by infinite headlights stuck in traffic.

The next morning saw us up early again, this time dressed for business. We headed off to meet with Saigon Co-Op, Vietnam’s largest supermarket chain, where we learnt about their business strategies and emphasis on supporting local communities; their supermarkets stock 90% local produce. That afternoon, we were given a personal guided tour through a Saigon Co-Op supermarket, food outlet and hypermarket – a colossal store stocking everything from groceries to clothes, musical instruments and more. After an amazing dinner of pho, we hit the Saigon Night Markets in what was our first time haggling for many of us, breaking deals left, right and centre as we tore prices down to numbers that were still probably quite high but low enough to keep our pride intact.

Day three featured an incredible meeting with Thao Nguyen at KPMG Vietnam. An amazing and inspiring former refugee, Thao has strived against immeasurable obstacles in her journey from poverty and racism in Australia to high profile legal work in Vietnam and beyond. Aside from empowering us with the knowledge that any goal can be accomplished with enough dedication. With a quick break to try weasel poo coffee, we then moved to the NZTE for a presentation by Rose Nguyen (no relation). Rose gave us a presentation on numerous aspects of Vietnamese commercial society that was as comprehensive as it was broad, enlightening us on several little-known facts about Vietnam essential to any external company looking to do business in the nation.

A break from the chaos and crazy fun of Ho Chi Minh came in the form of a sobering and deeply moving visit to the Vietnamese War Museum. Nothing could prepare us for coming face to face with picture upon picture of innocent children horrifically deformed by American war crimes in the region. World peace is often said to be a pipe dream but there is no doubt that each of us left that place determined to make it happen.

Our departure the next day was heralded by many tired mumblings as we hauled ourselves out of our bunks at 4am, boarding a shuttle for the airport. There was something relaxing yet eerie seeing the streets of such a bustling metropolis so quiet in the predawn light. For better or worse, we didn’t reflect on this site for too long as most of us drifted back to sleep, waking with a start as our shuttle pulled into the airport. We turned back to look at the Ho Chi Minh skyline beyond a patch of jungle and numerous snaking rivers before striding forwards to board our flight. Ho Chi Minh may have been chaotic and in your face, but it was time to face a new challenge. Destination; Guangzhou.

Also, Thank you so much to the Vice Chancellors Support Fund from the University of Auckland who helped make this trip possible for the two of us.

Dinuki Karunasekera & Mark Howard

Selamat Datang di Indonesia

Halo, Selamat Datang di Indonesia! Welcome to Indonesia!

Our time in Jakarta was a rollercoaster, every day unpredictable and different.

The busy streets, the friendly people, the heat and simply being Jakarta celebrities – all had its challenges.

On our first day in Jakarta, we began by facing the ultimate quest… crossing the road!

Despite almost leaving a delegate stranded on the other side, we all made it across safely.

We finally found ourselves reunited at an old market selling vintage keepsakes from centuries ago.

Then, wandering around the Indomart supermarket, marvelled by all of the exotic treats, was coincidentally the first of many times we were asked to take a photo. Afterwards, we ventured to The Monas National Memorial, conquering the heat, uneven footpaths and exhaustion. However, we soon found we were in fact the attraction, admired and photographed by the locals. Finally, after a lengthy morning, McDonald’s fries brought us together as a group.

The next few days were a succession of enlightening meetings with several influential organisations, including The Indonesian Institute, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the New Zealand Embassy, The ASEAN Foundation and Kompas TV.

Highlights for many of the delegates were experiencing authentic Indonesian cuisine, discussing socio-economic issues within Indonesia and the phenomenal views of the Ambassador’s residence. Here we got a chance to meet inspiring diplomats, learn about the New Zealand-ASEAN relationship, as well as the varied roles of the New Zealand Embassy. Additionally, Kompas TV was a unique experience, considering it is an independent, multimedia platform in Indonesia.

Coming to the end of our journey, we overcame our fears and tried street food; including the best chocolate crumpets, from the warmest soul and his homemade food cart! Immersing ourselves in the local culture, we had a fleeting visit to Istiqlal Mosque, guided by an expert in photography -getting those 360-degree angle pictures. Ultimately, we concluded our trip 56 floors up at the Skye Bar and Restaurant, indulging in an epic meal in a truly epic city!

Overall, Jakarta was full of contrast, challenges and reflects a developing nation in a globalised world.

Terima kasih! Thank you and see you in Ho Chi Minh City!

Oulaykham Siphandone & Hayley McKay

Sing Sing Singapore

Singapore 9th February – 12th February

Familiar faces, wide smiles, anxious at heart and potentially overweight suitcases. We all came together at Auckland International Airport ready to depart for a whirlwind trip, first stop Chinatown Singapore. Ticking off the bucket list we set our sights on Gardens by the Bay where many selfies were taken and we were already in awe by the efficiency of the transportation system, considering Singapore fits into Lake Taupo NZ. Despite the delegation coping with the high humidity our walking shoes were put to good use tackling many of the main tourist attractions such as Sentosa Island, Marina Bay Sands, Suntec City, Buddhist Temple, MerLion, ArtScience Museum, and ending the night in awe by the Garden Rhapsody Performance at the Supertree Grove followed by the Lunar New Year Fireworks.

The ease of Singapore’s highly effective long-term planning and transport system led us to our first meeting with the NZ High Commissioner for Singapore – Dr Jonathan Austin. Emphasis was placed on the enhanced partnership between Singapore and New Zealand, although New Zealand screams hobbits and sheep to many South East Asians, Jonathan highlighted that New Zealand is an innovative and creative country. Jonathan was interested to hear our opinion of how more students could challenge themselves to broaden their horizons to study and live in Singapore. A quote from Jonathan, “Asia is the Future, Europe is yesterday” resonated amongst all of us once leaving the meeting. This created good discussion at the end of the day when we regrouped for a Hot Pot dinner, before the Night Safari at Singapore Zoo.

The delegation was up the next day feeling recharged and ready to go for a significant meeting with Simon Baptist the Managing Director of EIU Asia. Having talked about a wide range of things which highlighted interconnectedness in a globalised world; Obesity, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Trade Wars, Top 10 Risks to the Global Economy, Climate Change, and the economic prospect of New Zealand were a few things that were mentioned that had left us feeling like we had travelled all over the world. Simon highlighted the importance of showing skills which propel us to be adaptable and innovative in a competitive working environment. It is these skills that will allow us to be a compliment and not a substitute as the world develops into the ever-changing world of automation.

Despite quick lunch and a short walk, we were astonished by the architecture and views from the top of the Ocean Financial Centre where Ben Smith and Khoon Gho from ANZ warmly greeted us. A centre point of the discussion was ASEAN, which is set to become the 4th largest market by 2030 accentuating the importance of ASEAN for New Zealand Trade. There was collaborative dialogue surrounding the need for New Zealand to revisit their investment approaches in Asia. A stand out point from our discussions with Ben was the importance of reminding ourselves as Kiwis not to be too self-critical. New Zealand prides itself on good quality and efficiency of products which should allow us to command a premium price for more than just a sample of our exports. ASEAN holds immense potential for New Zealand trade through Singapore contributing to a doorway of opportunity.

Overall, Singapore exceeded all expectations and I’m sure for many we will be visiting this innovative country very soon.

Virginia Hogan and Harman Kaur

The Auckland Youth Advisory Panel

Vesinia Maka and Damian Piilua are the Chair and Deputy Chair, of the Auckland Youth Advisory Panel. I had the privilege of finding out some more about the panel and the work that they and the 19 other members do.

The panel is made up of 21 youth from across Auckland, representing a different local board area. With representatives from Rodney right down to Franklin, thinking and advocating on the issues that face youth.

An Aotearoa Youth Declaration Focus Group visiting the Auckland Youth Advisory Panel on Outreach in 2018

What is the Youth Advisory Panel and your role on the panel?

Our primary role is to provide feedback to the Auckland Council on issues we identify as a panel. These issues we identify become our work program! Which for this term is environment and sustainability, transport and accessibility, affordable housing and homelessness, youth engagement and civic participation. In addition to that, we are trying to make connections with our local young people through our local boards and youth voice groups to get more of a local implication of regionalpolicy. And as the leadership team, our role is to really develop a work programme that co-aligns with the members of the panel and enforce the priorities that we have listed for the panel this term.


How important do you see the panel to be in regards to a youth voice in Auckland

Vesinia: The Youth Advisory Panel is an opportunity to ensure that the voices of young people are included in the decision-making of Tamaki Makaurau. It allows transparency in issues that affect a large proportion of young people such as, transport, homelessness and housing. It is incredibly important that we are providing a youth voice for young Aucklanders.

Damian: I see the panel as abig step towards greater civics participation from the youth demographic in Auckland. Part of our greater vision for the panel is for us is to have young people in Auckland understand local government and the impact of their decisions in our everyday lives.


Do you think the panel works to reduce the stigma that youth aren’t interested in Politics?

Vesinia: It is a slow process of reducing the stigma of youth becoming uninterested in Politics. As a new panel, it’s important that we increase our engagement with the wider youth, both on a local and regional level. However, with many of our panel members having strong relationships in their local youth groups, it has allowed engagement in regards to consultations of issues that matter to young people. So, in regards to reducing the stigma of youth becoming uninterested in Politics; I think it’s a slow progress. However, by having amazing members on this panel, it’s allowed for accountability when many organisations and departments are interested in our opinions.


Why do you think that a large proportion of high school students do not care about politics and deem it to be unimportant or irrelevant to their lives?

Damian: This is such a weighted question with viewpoints from different sectors I think. In part, I believe this question has to do with the curriculum in schools not reflecting the importance, and influence of local and central government decisions in our daily lives. I also think that it has to do with the media surrounding what politics is displayed. For many young people (myself included) we associate politics with the Beehive, parties that are not fun, screaming matches with Marama Fox vs. The world, and are showcasing decisions made by the government negatively. So for a school student with 6 subjects, a smartphone, 7 social media sites and drama with real-life impacts, politics may not be a high priority.


Is the political landscape inhospitable to those under 18, making it unappealing to young New Zealanders?

Damian: I feel yes, and no. I think the political landscape isn’t inhospitable, it is unfamiliar. There’s a difference. There is a growing number of millennials in NZ and it’s an untapped demographic that politics is recognising as an important opinion to have in future planning for policies and strategic plans. However, the engagement between politics is what makes it unappealing to young people. From the tables, I’ve sat around where 40+-year-olds sit, plan and design visuals for marketing purposes for young people It makes things it very apparent how out of touch the government is with young people. Politics operates in an almost mechanic way regionally, so it’s hard for young people to break the glass ceiling, be taken seriously and not be treated as the token demographic tick box.


Overall, we think we all have a role to play. From the campaigns of candidates to youth councils in local areas to the individual’s semi-versed in the world that is politics. We all have a responsibility to encourage those around us to be apart of conversations that impact a majority of our lives in one way or another. Politics is something that is complicated in itself and for many young people, they are still trying to understand what politics really is. Basic knowledge and information such as how to vote, the role of local boards and what mandate local boards have, are simple things that are vital when providing young people with the resources to actively participate and thrive in local decision making.

By Julia Caulfield

“Bossy”- It’s Real Meaning

Ever since I started school I’ve been a bright kid. In primary school, my hand was always up. I was in the gifted classes, I was labeled a leader, and I was confident in sharing my opinion, making friends and directing the conversation.

But by the time I reached intermediate school, things had begun to change. When given group projects I was continually told to stop being the “mum”. Not because I was caring or looked after everyone but because I “nagged them”. I was labeled “bossy” for the same characteristics that had previously been called leading. A label that not so surprisingly, none of my male counterparts got. The male students who took charge, raised their voice and tried to lead were told they had leadership potential, earned respect and were even labeled caring for trying to guide others.

Now, I often find myself sat in a university lecture hall in fear of being called on. I often bite my tongue in discussion because I don’t want to be seen as telling everyone what they should think. Or I lack the confidence to back up my opinion. When someone needs to take charge I’m far less inclined to lean in, because I don’t want to deal with the strife of being called “mum.” Never mind battling to get my voice heard.

Using the word “bossy” severely impacted my, and other women’s, confidence and leadership ambitions. It’s something that started in middle school, but keeps growing and continues throughout life. And it is an inherently gendered insult.

Bossy is defined as domineering, overbearing and fond of giving people orders. Yet it is commonly associated with any woman who asserts herself. I’ve read many articles like “how not to let a bossy woman undermine you in the workplace,” or “10 types of women men don’t want to marry” which of course included the “bossy woman”.

We are more likely to call an intelligent, organised, confident, logical girl who also puts her hand up bossy. Whereas her male counterpart will be admired for the same traits. As Sheryl Sandberg said “imagine if every girl who was called bossy was told she has leadership potential” This is because behind the hostility is a regressive, persistent view of what a woman should be. A woman should be kind, the feminine ideal, accommodating, a mother, a “good girl.”

But these stereotypes are a trap for women, if you exhibit the more ‘masculine traits’ associated with being a good and successful leader then you will be labeled bossy and disliked. But if you exhibit the soft skills of a woman such as caring for other, being modest, accommodating, then you are not seen as a worthy or good leader.

These stereotypes are the reason we need campaigns such as “Ban Bossy” by Lean In and Girl Scouts of America. It aims to promote self-censorship and criticism of the word bossy, recognising its negative impact on young women and their leadership. It is about starting a conversation and getting people to recognise the subconscious stereotypes and gender bias that come with the word.

What do Beyoncé, Condoleezza Rice & Jane Lynch have in common? They’ve committed to ban the word bossy. Watch this Lifetime PSA to hear why. #banbossy /

So now I sit in a university lecture hall reminding myself of these facts. I make a conscious effort to call out not just the use of “bossy” but any other gendered subconscious bias fueled comment. Simply posing the question. Would that still have been said if the individual was male? I still feel grief that for so long I carried around guilt of being “bossy” and allowed this to impact my self confidence, my self worth both physically, mentally, emotionally and interpersonally. My hope is not to ban bossy but simply the hope that when the time comes around, my daughter can be strong, assertive and independent without shame, or have anxiety of the word “bossy.” Equally, I hope that my son can be tender, emotional, passive without fear of the similar ridicule.

By Maisy Bently