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Personal traits embellish gubernatorial post

John Allen is a refreshingly different breed of bureaucrat.

He is accessible, articulate, intelligent, and most important of all, humble and friendly. He carries no air about his job as the Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He does not prepare his speeches- there are no notes, no laptop, no USB drive with Power Point Presentation. As Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand said, “If there are any notes, they will most likely be scribbled on the back of his menu or a business card.”

But on this occasion, he neither used our Menu Card nor anyone’s Business Card. He took to the stage like a fish taking to the water; and for 40 minutes, there was continuous flow of words of wisdom and opinion – candid and transparent.

Master of Ceremonies Rt Hon Paul East was another jewel in the Crown. He added dignity, respect and humour to his role.

There were lighter moments at a serious function – just as everyone wanted it to be; for, apart from Accountability, Transparency, Integrity and Good Governance, one of the things that our Governor General loves is good, clean humour.

Core Principles

And an event that bears his name – The Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture understandably reflected those qualities.

Sponsored by Panworld Travel Mangere, it was an event attended by Judges of High Courts and District Court, prominent solicitors, barristers and lawyers, successful businesspersons, professionals and many other high profile people.

We have structured the Lecture as an annual feature to pay continuous tribute to the man who brought honour and dignity not only to the Indian community to which he proudly belongs but to all New Zealanders during his five-year tenure as our Governor General.

However, the contributions of the Leader in his earlier assignments and capacities cannot be overlooked.

As Mr Allen said, we have been extraordinarily lucky to have had a New Zealander of Indian ethnicity as the Governor General, because it recognises the contribution made in the past and present and the contribution that would be made in the future by the Indian community in this country.

“It recognises the extraordinary contribution made by people from all over the world to the diversity and dynamism of this country.

“We are lucky to have a judge as the Governor General because the Rule of Law recognises that all people are equal before the law.

“We are lucky to have an Ombudsman in that role because Ombudsmen represent the needs and challenges of ordinary New Zealanders throughout the country in their dealings with the Government and bureaucracy. It is at the heart of the ability of leaders to connect with the real people, the communities of our country, that were so defined in Sir Anand’s time in office,” he said.

Laser focus perilous

As the Guest Speaker at a Lecture series, Mr Allen asked a number of hard questions and provided the answers as well.

Are we a country suffering from xenophobia? Do we want to shun foreign investment and foreign talent? Can we live in isolation? Should we not be a part of the world that is successful, a world that celebrates ethnic diversity?

While fruitful engagement with countries around the world is important, Mr Allen cautioned against concentrating on one country.

“If you are small with limited resources, you should have a laser-like focus on the areas of opportunities. And that would be India of course, as we have seen a laser-like focus on India, China or South Asia and we should put all those resources into those particular areas of opportunities, jettison everything else and sail magnificently into a successful future.

“The problem with that thesis is that New Zealand did that once before. The country was called, England; we had a laser-like intensity and put everything in there, and they went into the European Union and the New Zealand economy went into convulsions for many years,” he said.

The Lecture in their Opinion

The Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture has the hallmark of a wonderful occasion and I trust it may provide an on-going focus for issues related to good governance in our country.

Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, Governor General

Indian Newslink has done well to structure a Lecture series based on the core principles that are dear to our Governor General Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand. I am happy to be associated with this Project.

Dr Rajen Prasad, Member of Parliament (Labour)

This was one of the finest Lectures that I have attended; a fitting tribute to Sir Anand Satyanand and Lady Susan Satyanand. Congratulations to Indian Newslink, you have achieved another milestone.

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Member of Parliament (National Party)

I enjoyed the occasion. You had an excellent turnout.

John Allen, Secretary & Chief Executive, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade

We had a great night and a great opportunity to meet some friends. Well done Indian Newslink; another achievement.

Dr Don Brash, Leader, ACT Party

A nice night with good company and entertaining speakers

John Banks, Former Mayor, Auckland City

Another great opportunity to listen to John Allen and Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand. Good work, Indian Newslink.

Michael Boag, Executive Director, Ogilvy NZ

Par excellence from the team at Indian Newslink. Another enjoyable night with great company and an excellent lecture by John Allen. Indian Newslink has achieved another milestone with this great concept of Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture and the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards.

Robert Khan, Managing Director, Radio Tarana

This is an excellent idea, Well done.

Lawrence Ponniah, Managing Partner, Corban Revell Barristers & Solicitors

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