Opening of New Zealand Embassy in Cairo

  • Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Dr Ahmed Darwish, Minister for Administrative Development
Kaumatua and members of Ngati Ranana
Egyptian friends
Fellow New Zealanders

This is a special day in the relationship between Egypt and New Zealand.

Like many other countries, we see Egypt as the heart of the Arab world and of Middle East, and as a door to Africa. In establishing the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo, we recognise the importance to New Zealand, and its engagement with the wider Middle East and Africa regions, of our relationship with Egypt.

Establishing this Embassy will allow us greater opportunity to benefit directly from Egyptian perspectives and insights on these regions. It will also help enhance our engagement with the Arab world as a whole through contact with the Arab League, based here in Cairo.

New Zealand shares with Egypt many key goals not least in disarmament and in a Middle East – and a world - free of nuclear weapons. Like Egypt we have a vision of what this region might become if conflict was reduced and major political and security problems were resolved. The peace dividend would be immense.

The new embassy will also be working to stimulate economic cooperation. We are looking to create a more modern framework for the development of our bilateral trade and investment relationship with Egypt, one that makes better use of the freer business environments prevailing in both our countries.

We particularly look forward to welcoming Trade Minister Rashid and representatives of the Egyptian business community to New Zealand early next year, to carry on from the discussions held in Cairo last December with New Zealand’s Trade Minister Phil Goff.

We are also looking forward to a visit by a scoping mission from the Ministry of Administrative Development to identify possible areas of co-operation between us.

I hope that these visits will be the first of many such exchanges.

Overall we want to see more substance in our relationship. In addition to trade and other economic exchanges, it would be good to see more travel by our peoples in both directions. For New Zealanders, Egypt is a favoured destination for purposes of heritage and cultural tourism, and remembrance. Egyptians will find New Zealand’s cultural mix and identity unique. We will be looking to people-to-people exchanges with Egypt in the arts and cultural fields and other areas to increase mutual awareness, understanding and collaboration.

This is illustrated in the way that we have chosen to start with the ceremonial opening of our embassy drawing on the traditional culture and values of New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Mâori.

Derek Lardelli, our kaumatua, our elder, who is in his own right a reputed artist as well as a practitioner of traditional ceremonial protocol, has led us in this moving ceremony. Our kaikaranga, Kuini Reedy, has chanted the ancestral calls of Mâori. I also thank Ngati Ranana, the cultural group which has come from London to be here for this ceremony. I am sure you will join me in thanking them for this first part of the ceremony and I have much pleasure in declaring the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo officially open.

Thank you.