Diplomats pop in to see regional businesses

17 April, 2016

The Bay of Plenty was on the agenda for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's recent heads of mission visit to the regions.

The group of senior New Zealand diplomats visited a selection of businesses in Tauranga and also met with local body politicians and members of the Bay of Connections regional growth strategy group.

The group's co-leader, Rupert Holborow, divisional manager of MFAT's economic division in Wellington, said it was the third time in the past three years the ministry had brought back heads of mission from their overseas postings as a group. The diplomats spent three days in Wellington for ministerial and local business briefings, then different groups visited various regions across the country.

"The purpose of the outreach is to get an update on a particular region's contributions to exporting and also to help people understand where MFAT fits into the ecosystem of organisations that help exporters," said Mr Holborow.

Noting that it was a privilege to represent New Zealand overseas, Mr Holborow said the meetings provided an opportunity for the diplomats to meet with some fantastic innovative companies.

"These are the people we look to help overseas.

"The briefings help remind our team that it is a special group we look to support and stand behind."

The Tauranga group included New Zealand diplomats serving in Vanuatu, East Timor, Malaysia, Switzerland, Chile, the United States, Russia, Samoa and Taiwan.

While in Tauranga, the diplomats were briefed at kiwifruit exporter Zespri, the Port of Tauranga, and at the Newnham Park Innovation Centre. Newnham Park houses a cluster of innovative companies, including Plus Group, Locus Research, Kiwifruitz, Heilala Vanilla and Southern Produce.

The visit to the centre included briefings from Tim Allen, chief executive of Locus Research, and from Alistair Scarfe, director of Robotics Plus, part of the Plus Group.

Plus Group chief executive Tina Jennen said the visit had reminded local businesses of all the offshore work by the Government to enable New Zealand companies to transact internationally in the most efficient way possible.

(Original article courtesy of http://www.nzherald.co.nz/bay-of-plenty-times/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503343&objectid=11648791)