UN delegates visit Queenstown

GRANT BRYANT
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was keeping tight-lipped about a United Nations Security Council delegates' visit to Queenstown, a Wakatipu High School student has shed some light on it.

Any news about the UN high-fliers even being in the country would have remained under the radar except for an email from one of Prime Minister John Key's press secretaries being accidently sent to a radio news desk.

However, once the email was received, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully disclosed there would be "several" visits by New York-based UN representatives this year - and details would be revealed only after the UN voted in October on which countries would sit on the UN Security Council. New Zealand is campaigning to be one of those countries.

"While a prime focus is New Zealand's UN Security Council campaign, the visits are also designed to promote key trade and economic objectives, especially in relation to the agricultural sector," McCully said.

"The current visit by 11 ambassadors will include a number of agricultural visits, including the Mystery Creek Fieldays, as well as seminars and meetings related to UN topics."

Wakatipu High School student Hebe Hilhorst said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade divisional manager, UN human rights and Commonwealth division, Simon Draper, who was part of the hosting party, spoke to a group of students on Tuesday afternoon.

"Showing the UN representatives ‘who we are as New Zealanders' was important, he said, as it demonstrated our value system and indicated how we were likely to behave in future should we be elected to the UNSC," said Hilhorst, who co-ordinated the talk.

"He said countries were keen to deal with us because we could act as ‘an honest broker' and had a reputation for being brave, practical and fair-minded."

Hilhorst said the UN group also visited Mt Nicholas Station on Tuesday morning. Mt Nicholas is a historical, family-run, fully operational high-country station of more than 100,000 hectares, located across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown.

The group visited the sustainable farming section of the station, Hilhorst said.

McCully said the cost of the visits would be "borne within MFAT baselines", but likened revealing the Government gameplan on wooing a Security Council seat to the All Blacks coach revealing his gameplan for the next test.

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- The Southland Times

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