Political relations between Italy and New Zealand were further growing during 2005. The high number of visas issued and of tourist movements (the Working Holiday Agreement is very successful) confirm the increasing mutual interest and attraction that exists between Italians and New Zealanders. In this context, the visit of the President of the “Parco Nazionale delle Cinque Terre" Mr. Bonanini in New Zealand was an important event to promote this area as a tourist destination and to establish ways of cooperation with New Zealand Natural Parks.
In the commercial- economic field, there is a trend of growth in bilateral trade, with a large surplus for Italy, which confirms the continuing success of Made in Italy in this Market. At the end of November 2005 an important mission consisting in a delegation made up of numerous members of the Agro-food sector came to New Zealand. It included representatives from the Milan Chamber of Commerce (with the participation of “Agriteam”, the Agency for the promotion of the Agro-food Sector), the Cooperative for Quality Beef, the University of Milan and several companies. The principal aim of the mission was to finalize some agreements between the two countries in order to establish a radio frequency identification RFID (Italy is in the forefront in this field has an important technological partnership in New Zealand). The visit also provided the opportunity to finalize an important relationship of cooperation between “Parco Tecnologico Padano” (which is working for an “identification project” through DNA complementary to RFID) and the New Zealand Technological Park Innovation Waikato, which includes a programme of joint research and staff exchange, and at the same time the promotion of wine-food products from Lombardia to local restaurateurs and importers.
The commercial launch of bathroom fittings from the important Italian Company “Ceramica Catalano”, which took place in Wellington thanks to the collaboration between the Embassy of Italy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand, is a further important event which confirms the importance of the furniture sector in New Zealand. It is also important to report on the important investment in the naval sector by “Gruppo Cafimar”, which purchased two vessels, “Southern Cross” and “Southern Moana” that through Reef Shipping Ltd. assure the transport of containers, industrial machinery and vehicles between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. It is also important to emphasize the 6.1 Euro millions deal assigned to Gruppo Trevi in order to undertake restoration works to the Arapuni breakwater.
Italian culture is among the most loved in New Zealand and 2005 was a very active year for its promotion in this country. It is important to mention the concert of the Italian guitarist, Marco Battaglia, which took place at Te Papa Museum in Wellington on 22 May; and the concert of the Italian pianist, Pietro de Maria, which took place at the Ilott Theatre in Wellington on 21 April. 2005 was also the year in which the first Delegation of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina was established in New Zealand.
Italy is increasigly involved in the Pacific area, as shown by the projects in support of the development carried out through FAO. Italy allocated 4,5 million US dollars in favour of the Pacific Islands Countries with a project named “Support to the Regional Program for Food Security in the Pacific Islands Countries” in order to improve food and security production and reduce the dependence on imports in that area. This is the most important project of this kind at a bilateral level for the whole Pacific area. As far as those countries under the competencies of the Embassy of Italy in Wellington are concerned – Cook Islands, Kiribati Islands, Marshall Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu- 15 projects have been developed. Projects are carried out by the Ministries of Agriculture of each country involved and supervised by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, based in Bangkok, having for this purpose established the Regional Project Management Unit at its own sub-regional office in Apia, Samoa. Furthermore, Italy contributes to the development of the area with funds administered by the European Union.
Political relations were intensified between Italy and New Zealand during that year. It is important to mention the visit to Italy of Prime Minister Helen Clark. Prime Minister Helen Clark visited Italy on the occasion of the commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Cassino in which 343 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives. Parliamentarians, the Chief of Defense, fifty-two veterans (beside those who arrived in Cassino by private means) and journalists, took part in the commemorative events. The Maori Cultural Group was also present on this occasion. Italy was represented at the ceremony by Senate Vice President, Hon. Lamberto Dini, and by the Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Margherita Boniver. The commemoration events of Cassino were on occasion whereby bilateral meetings confirmed the excellent state of relations between Italy and New Zealand and gave a further impetus to contacts and to future initiatives, in all sectors. The huge success of Prime Minister Clark’s visit, who was accompanied by the New Zealand Ambassador to Italy, Julie McKenzie and by the Ambassador of Italy to New Zealand, Liana Marolla, was brought to a successful conclusion with the long and intense meeting with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (more than 3 hours long), which concluded with a press conference at Palazzo Chigi. Another decisive aspect of the visit was the signing of the new Agreement for Cinematographic Co-production with the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Urbani, thanks to which the possibilities for collaboration between operators in this field of both Countries have been expanded. Ms Clark also had meetings with the President of the Senate, Marcello Pera, and with the Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Margherita Boniver. During her time there, she also visited an important sales market “Loro Piana” in Rome (New Zealand wool is in fact used by the Italian brand for the manufacture of many garments) and also took part in a roundtable organized by the European Design Institute in order to familiarize herself with aspects of “know how” that characterize “Made in Italy”.
The visit in New Zealand of an Italian Parliamentary Delegation was another important event that took place from 31 October to 8 November 2004. It was the first meeting between Italian and New Zealand inter-parliamentary friendship Groups. The Italian delegation visited the main cities in New Zealand and met members of the political, commercial-economic, cultural world and of the Italian community. The delegation met local authorities and important representatives of the academic world in Christchurch, including a visit to the Antarctica Centre, where Italy, together with the United States and New Zealand, has been conducting scientific and technological research for several years. The greater political and institutional part of the visit took place during three days in the capital where there were numerous meetings with colleagues of the New Zealand Parliament, Commissions, and political Groups about issues such as international policy, institutional reforms, the pension system and structure of local governments. The meeting with Prime Minister Helen Clark was certainly the central point of the visit in Wellington. The long meeting opened with a free exchange of ideas about international questions and the future collaboration between the two Countries. The Italian Delegation visited Rotorua, the Maori heart of the country, concluding its visit in Auckland, the economic and financial center of New Zealand. Following a meeting with the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Wellington, the most economic-commercial part of the visit took place indeed in Auckland. The Italian parliamentarians met several representatives of the economic and commercial world and were able to evaluate numerous opportunities for the development of commercial bilateral relations, thanks also to compatibilities that exist in several sectors between the two countries.
The Ambassador of Italy took part in a New Zealand expedition in Antarctica in November 2004, where Scott Base hosted a meeting of scientists and distinguished guests headed by Sir Edmund Hillary, famous for having been the first to have conquered Mt. Everest in 1953. The expedition represented an occasion to take stock of important scientific researches concerning environmental changes and initiatives relating to Antarctica, and coincided with the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Antarctic crossing by Sir Edmund Hillary and the commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Mt Erebus disaster, the most serious air accident in New Zealand. The Ambassador of Italy, Liana Marolla, took part in the expedition representing Italy, which is not only present in the Antarctic continent with a scientific base, but cooperates in a direct way with the New Zealand site, 400km away, in accordance with a memorandum of bilateral cooperation.
The most important cultural event in 2004 was the opening of the exhibition “Qui tutto bene – The Italians in New Zealand” at the National Museum “Te Papa Tongarewa” in Wellington, in November. It gives a picture of the history of the Italian settlement in New Zealand until the present day, providing visitors with a historic and anthropologic path through the use of objects, videos and witnesses. The Exhibition has been realized through the cooperation between the museum and the Italian Community, whose members, set up into a committee, have generously accepted to share their experiences and offered a rich collection of photos and objects. The opening of the exhibition was framed by a weekend celebrating Italian culture. The official opening night, that gathered the museum staff, the Italian Community and the Italian Embassy, was followed by two days during which the Museum offered its visitors concerts of Italian folk melodies and songs from Naples, lectures of Neapolitan poems and extracts from comedies by Eduardo De Filippo, tarantella performances and the screening of the Italian movie “Out the world”. The events were characterized by the participation of Italian people, particularly members of the Club Garibaldi in Wellington, a very ancient association being 124 years old. The museum “Te Papa” will host the exhibition until March 2007.
As regards cultural events, it is also important to mention the piano recital of the Italian classic pianist, Christian Leotta, who performed at the Wellington Town Hall on 7 October. The Ambassador of Italy, Her Excellency Liana Marolla and Her Worship the Mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast hosted this event by invitation only. Mr Leotta played music by Wagner, Beethoven, Scarlatti and Debussy.
As regards the commercial field, one of the most significant event was the promotional initiative of the Italian pleasure nautical sector in New Zealand organized by ICE, the Italian Trade Commission, together with UCINA, the National Union of Shipyards and Nautical Factories and Allied Products, and with the support of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association, which was hosted in Auckland from 24 to 28 November. The initiative consisted of a workshop and bilateral meetings and was characterized by the participation of some Italian Companies. During this mission the Italian delegates presented to the New Zealand market various Italian companies supplying both products and know-how and met New Zealand operators of the nautical sector, including boat builders, importers, distributors and dealers of nautical products. The mission represented a first approach to make the products of Italian derivation, well know for their quality and innovation, get into a market that, although small, has remarkably distinguished itself for the last few years by the production of excellent pleasure boats.
A remarkable event was the launch of the Maserati Quattroporte at the presence of the Ambassador of Italy, Liana Marolla, on 22 September, with the collaboration of Sir Mark Darrow of the Continental Car Services, Auckland Ltd., at the Ambassador’s Residence.
Another initiative was the Graf Lamberto Frescobaldi’s promotional trip to New Zealand to promote Frescobaldi wines. He attended meetings in Napier, Blenheim, Wellington and Auckland. He visited several of the most important vineyards in the Country and attended meetings with the competent local bodies. Liana Marolla, the Ambassador of Italy in New Zealand, hosted a wine tasting function, with the attendance of more than 100 guests including Diplomatic corps, local Authorities, members of the cultural field, experts and journalists, importers and distributors, the Italian community.
One of the most interesting event in 2003 was the historic visit to Wellington of the Italian Navy Sailing Vessel “Amerigo Vespucci” which berthed in Auckland for one year and visited the city of Wellington from the 26th of January to the 3rd of February 2003. It was an important tribute to the capital and its Institutions reinforced by the contextual visit to New Zealand of the Italian Navy Chief of Staff, Admiral Marcello De Donno, in the framework of the excellent relations between the two Countries. The Ambassador of Italy Roberto Palmieri hosted a Garden Party to the Residence on 30 January.
2003 was a very intense year as regards political bilateral meeting. First of all, the meeting of the European Troika, held on 19 September in Stockholm, between the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, and New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff. The meeting was based on the relations between the EU and New Zealand, with special reference to the visa regime, European Agricultural policy and EU strategy for security. International issues were also the topic of discussion: the Pacific, the Middle East, Iraq, the strategy to combat terrorism. Prior to the Troika, Mr. Frattini had a bilateral meeting with his New Zealand counterpart: they reconfirmed that the relations between the two countries are very good and they undertook to further strengthen these in the sectors of the economy, culture and sport.
Other significant visits consisted in that of New Zealand Minister of Agriculture and Commerce, Jim Sutton, who presided over FAO Conference from 26 November to 11 December and met with the Italian Minister of Agriculture Policy, Giovanni Alemanno; and that one of the Minister of Energy and Scientific Research, Pete Hodgson who took part in the United Nations Conference on climatic change.
As regards commercial aspects, the new Director of the Italian Trade Commission Office competent for New Zealand, Matteo Picariello, made a brief visit to Wellington – and Auckland - for a first meeting the purpose of which was to evaluate possible future initiatives in the economic-commercial sector and for the re-opening of the Auckland Office of Italian Trade Commission. In order to make the most of Dr. Picariello’s visit it was organized a working luncheon attended by the President of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, the Deputy Secretary General of the Industry and Regional Development Division of the Ministry for Economic Development (MED), an Area Manager of New Zealand Trade an Enterprise and exponents from the world of entrepreneurs.
Nicola Lorandini, export area manager of De Longhi, paid a visit to New Zealand from 17th to 21st of November. This visit was an opportunity for a meeting with the top management of the Embassy Theatre Trust and with the Deputy Mayor of Wellington City, at which they discussed about some opportunities of sponsorship. De Longhi is one of the most popular Success Stories in New Zealand as proved by a high growth of its wide product range. The following month, Federico Castellucci, Director-General of Federvini, arrived in New Zealand on an informal visit. He had meetings both in Auckland and Wellington with the main New Zealand wine organizations. The Ambassador of Italy hosted a buffet dinner for this occasion with the attendance of way above 100 guests including wine producers, local bodies, the Diplomatic corps, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce, sommeliers, experts and journalists, importers and distributors, restaurant operators, the Italian community.
2002 was also a year rich of intense activities among which the visit to Rome of the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff from 2 to 3 May. This visit followed the EU/NZ Presidency consultation and was inserted into a six-nation visit, which comprised Bosnia, Croatia, Spain, Poland and Czech Republic. In Italy the Minister met several key government officials, among whom the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Margherita Boniver. The meetings have been focused on some bilateral question and especially on the America’s cup.
The most important visit of in New Zealand was that of the Deputy Foreign Minister Margherita Boniver, who visited the country from 25 to 30 November. During her stay in Wellington she met with the Governor General, Dame Silvia Cartwright, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff and the Minister of Energy and Scientific Research, Pete Hodgson. During the Reception held in the Residence of the Ambassador of Italy Hon. Boniver met with representatives of the local Italian community and with business exponents and the Minister appointed for the coordination of the America’s Cup, Mallard. The Hon. Boniver spent time with Minister Hodgson talking mainly on questions relating to bilateral trade. Her agenda with Minister Goff included bilateral points, a close look at regional questions and multilateral issues. Along with the Minister of Foreign affairs she was also able to meet with the Director of “Creative New Zealand”. During her subsequent visit to Auckland, after having officially opened an exhibition on scientific cooperation in Antarctica mounted by ENEA and on display at the Maritime Museum she was guest aboard the Amerigo Vespucci Navy Training Ship at a dinner in her honor at which the Minister of foreign Affairs, Phil Goff, took part. Whilst still in Auckland she met with executives and Team Prada when visiting their base.
The New Zealand Minister of Commerce, Jim Sutton, visited Italy on 10-13 June 2002, on the occasion of the World Food summit in Rome. During his stay in Italy, the Minister met the Italian Minister of Agriculture, Alemanno. On the occasion of the Food summit, a delegation from the Cook Islands, one of the Samoan Government and one of the Tongan Government visited Italy and took part in the summit meetings.
One of the most important events was the arrival at Auckland Harbor on 20 October 2002, after a journey via the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which started form Livorno, of the Italian Navy Sailing Vessel "Amerigo Vespucci”. The presence of the ship in New Zealand was a token of the friendship and the excellent relations between the two countries in the sporting atmosphere of the Louis Vuitton and America cups. On this occasion, the Italian Embassy, with the logistics support of the Italian Navy, organized a promotional trade-economic event on 9 December on board the “Amerigo Vespucci”. 150 guests including entrepreneurs and State Agencies including Trade New Zealand, Industry New Zealand, Investment New Zealand, New Zealand Trade Associations and representatives of the local and media, attended the Reception. The Reception was introduced by the Ambassador of Italy, Roberto Palmieri, and the Ambassador of New Zealand to Rome, Peter Bennett. The large participation at the event showed the high interest in the “Made in Italy” and real potential for growth in trade and eventual Italian investments in New Zealand.
The Costa Smeralda Yacht Club visited New Zealand on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Italy’s first appearance in the America’s Cup in 1983 with the yacht “Azzurra”. On 6 December a reception in honor of the Club was held on board the Amerigo Vespucci and on 11 December a Cocktail party was offered in Wellington at the Residence of the Italian Ambassador. Both receptions saw the presence of some of the staff members of the Club. Also present was the architect Andrea Valliccelli, designer of Azzurra ’83 and the helmsman of Azzurra Mr. Mauro Pelaschier. Mr. John Bertrand, skipper of Australia II, the yacht that won the 1983 edition of the America’s Cup, also attended. Other guests included the New Zealand Minister of Defence, Hon. Mark Burton, Damien O’Connor, Associate Minister for Agriculture, Rural Affairs, Immigration and New Zealand Ambassador to Rome, Peter Bennett.
2001 was a very important year in the history of diplomatic relations between the two Countries. In fact, the visit of the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lamberto Dini to New Zealand took place on February of that year. On that important occasion the Working Holiday Agreement between New Zealand and Italy was signed. It become soon a significant opportunity to increase the friendship between the two Countries, particularly thanks to the knowledge of Italians and New Zealanders.
Another important political event was represented by the visit of Prime Minister Helen Clark to Italy on 11 and 12 September.
It is also important to mention the visit of the President of the Institute of Foreign Trade ICE to New Zealand and the following Promotional Week dedicated to “Sapori di Lombardia – A taste of Italy” organized with the collaboration of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand. Gianni Versace exhibition “The reinvention of Materials” was another important event that took place in the National Museum Te Papa in Wellington with a large participation of public. The last promotional initiative of 2001 was dedicated to wines and was organized in Wellington with the collaboration of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand.
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