New High Commissioner To London

  • Doug Graham
Foreign Affairs and Trade

Rt Hon Paul East QC will be New Zealand's new High Commissioner to London from February, Foreign Minister Don McKinnon announced today.

Mr East served as a Cabinet Minister and Attorney-General from 1990 to 1997 and held a range of other major portfolios including State Services from 1993-96 and Defence from 1996-97. A Queen's Counsel, Mr East entered Parliament as MP for Rotorua in 1978. In 1998, Mr East was appointed a Member of the Privy Council.

"Britain is our most important trade partner in the European Union and one of our key friends worldwide," McKinnon said.

"Currently we are involved in complex problems concerning New Zealand butter exports to Europe. Paul East's international legal experience, skills as an advocate and as former senior Minister and Parliamentarian, will help us build on the real progress that has been made.

"The importance of the relationship goes way beyond trade. We share a common heritage of culture, language and tradition. We have a history of very close dialogue and cooperation in international issues and a deep commitment to a flourishing Commonwealth. Britain is one of New Zealand's largest sources of tourism, investment and migration.

"Paul East has the personal qualities and experience at the most senior level of public office to represent New Zealand's interests in Britain. It will be important in the period ahead to build on the excellent relations that we have in Britain at the most senior political level."

Mr East replaces career diplomat Dr Richard Grant. Mr McKinnon said that Dr Grant had been highly effective as High Commissioner to London.

"As one of New Zealand's most experienced diplomats, Richard will continue to play a major role in New Zealand's foreign relations."

An announcement on his future assignment will be made once steps already in train have been concluded.