Work­ing for NZ in UAE

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

He is about to head to one of the world’s hottest places — but Matthew Hawkins says he’ll still re­turn home to Taupō as of­ten as he can.

“It’s al­ways awe­some to get back and put my feet in the lake and feel at home,” says Matthew, 47, who has just been ap­pointed New Zealand’s next Am­bas­sador to the United Arab Emi­rates.

“I get back [to Taupō] four or five times over the year. It will be a bit dif­fer­ent when I’m over­seas but when I’m here [in Welling­ton] I’m con­sis­tently back, and I get en­er­gised com­ing home.”

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters an­nounced last week that Mr Hawkins, born and raised in Taupō, had been ap­pointed to the am­bas­sador’s po­si­tion. The post­ing, ex­pected to be three or four years, fol­lows a ca­reer that has in­cluded work over­seas and in New Zealand.

The UAE is the en­try point into the Mid­dle East for many New Zealand busi­nesses and trav­ellers, with two-way trade over $3 bil­lion in 2017. The New Zealand Em­bassy in Abu Dhabi is also ac­cred­ited to Qatar.

Matthew has pre­vi­ously been based in the Em­bassy in Tehran and was Charge d’Af­faires in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia as well as also work­ing in Afghanistan, Iraq and Wash­ing­ton DC.

Matthew at­tended Waipahihi School, Taupō In­ter­me­di­ate and Napier Boys High School where he was head pre­fect of the board­ing house.

His fa­ther Rex was a Taupō po­lice de­tec­tive and later a busi­ness­man and a dis­trict and re­gional coun­cil­lor and his mother Sue a well-known jour­nal­ist who worked at Ra­dio

New Zealand Taupō, later Ra­dio Lake­land, the Taupō Times and NZPA.

Matthew did a law de­gree and a Bach­e­lor of Arts in po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity of Welling­ton, fol­lowed by a Mas­ters of Law at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, Wash­ing­ton DC. He worked in the US, Aus­tralia and New Zealand in law and the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor be­fore tak­ing a job at the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade.

“I had bumped into peo­ple work­ing for MFAT in my over­seas work and they were all highly mo­ti­vated to serve New Zealand and were do­ing a range of in­ter­est­ing work. That was re­ally ap­peal­ing and the abil­ity to be con­nected with New Zealand in work over­seas was also quite ap­peal­ing.”

Matthew says he didn’t set out to be­come a Mid­dle East spe­cial­ist.

“We are known as gen­er­al­ists who should be able to rep­re­sent wher­ever you pop up in the world. We have 50 em­bassies all over the world and are do­ing dif­fer­ent things in all those coun­tries.

“I took the chance to do my first post in Iran and it’s led me into this area. I’ve also done quite a lot in Welling­ton and Wash­ing­ton trade ne­go­ti­a­tions and the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions, free trade agree­ment with Hong Kong and I’ve worked on the CPTTP (Com­pre­hen­sive and Pro­gres­sive Agree­ment for Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship).”

Matthew says the UAE is full of op­por­tu­ni­ties and a big part of his role will be to help New Zealand com­pa­nies grasp them as well as pro­vide as­sis­tance to New Zealan­ders.

“There’s about 5000 New Zealan­ders liv­ing there and about 150 New Zealand com­pa­nies through­out the Mid­dle East re­gion and it’s one of our top 10 trade part­ners.”

The job will be fast-paced, com­pet­ing with a lot of other coun­tries for busi­ness and sup­port­ing New Zealand com­mer­cial in­ter­ests and build­ing re­la­tion­ships.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited. The op­por­tu­ni­ties are enor­mous.”

Liv­ing in Abu Dhabi will be quite dif­fer­ent from New Zealand.

“It gets up to 50C there so it’s re­ally hot.

“You spend a lot of time in­doors and that’s dif­fi­cult for Ki­wis, but it’s a very ad­vanced econ­omy and so­ci­ety so it’s very com­fort­able liv­ing there and lots of things to do and a re­ally ex­cit­ing place.”

Matthew has been meet­ing New Zealand com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in do­ing busi­ness in the

Mid­dle East and is now do­ing two months of Ara­bic lan­guage study.

“Then I’ll have a cou­ple of weeks get­ting en­er­gised in Taupō for a hol­i­day over Christ­mas. I’ll be back at least once a year to con­nect with head of­fice and come to Taupō and have a break as well.” Matthew and his wife head to Abu Dhabi the first week of Jan­uary.

Photo / Sup­plied

New Zealand’s next Am­bas­sador to the United Arab Emi­rates, Matthew Hawkins, says com­ing home to Taupo¯ al­ways en­er­gises him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.