Send cash urgently, NZ's honour at stake
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Martin van Beynen
OPINION: The news about the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo spending close to a million of our dollars on a swimming pool prompted me to delve into that treasure trove of illegally obtained diplomatic cables from New Zealand embassies around the world which can be found on a website called KiwiLeaks.
While Kiwi-Leaks does not quite contain material as sensational as that revealed by WikiLeaks, it certainly comes close in its frankness and penetrating analysis of host countries.
As a teaser, I am releasing a selection to illustrate the fact our diplomatic relations are indeed in the best of hands and the cuts to the service are especially scandalous.
NZ Embassy - Rome:
Urgent: Entertained PM Berlusconi last night. He is very fond of our country but has expensive tastes. The bill for the evening, which included entertainment, came to $72,000. Discretionary budget wiped out. Please approve new funds as PM and I meet again next week. Have committed embassy to sponsoring the annual Puccini Opera Festival and taken on new staff member at PM's recommendation.
NZ Embassy - Geneva:
Crucial importance: Please expedite application for yacht purchase. All business conducted here on yachts moored at the lake marina and absolutely essential our representation does not fall behind the competition. The $7 million buys only the most basic vessel. See application for upgrade.
NZ Embassy - Berlin:
Highest Importance. Confidential. Must express disappointment at the ambassador's residence. At least one of the 10 bedrooms does not have an ensuite bathroom and one dining area will not be adequate. Hilda is aghast at the decor and, finding the cushions in the lounge room intolerable, has purchased a new set immediately - expenditure $6679. Please approve ASAP and authorise remodelling and redecoration work.
NZ Embassy - Washington:
Extremely urgent. My wife and I are returning to NZ in April for one of our monthly trips home. My secretary informs me no first class seats are available on the date we mean to travel. We MUST arrive in New Zealand refreshed to start our holiday so please arrange Air Force to evacuate us. If not possible please organise private jet travel and arrange limousine transport from airport as per our usual arrangement.
NZ Embassy - Madrid
Seriously Urgent! Sammie and I have been invited to an audience with his royal highness King Juan Carlos. We discovered to our horror we have nothing suitable to wear. We need to further New Zealand's trade interests, especially fashion, and therefore request immediate approval for Versace gown for Sammie ($9000) and Brioni dinner suit and gloves for me ($12,790).
NZ High Commission - London:
Greatest urgency: I enclose plans for a new gym and roof garden for the High Commission building. To cut costs we have dispensed with the swimming pool but the gym and garden (for post-gym relaxation) essential. The cost will be approximately $3.4m. Running costs have been cut to the bone by having only one masseur on staff and scrapping the gym cafe.
NZ Embassy - Johannesburg:
Most urgent: Queries about trip to Swaziland and Malawi. Clearly head office has no concept of the hardship involved in some of these foreign posts. There are NO FIVE STAR hotels in either of these countries and acceptable meals and drinks must be flown in!!!!! Given importance of Swaziland to NZ's national interest, a new Toyota Lexus as a gift for King Mswati was not extravagant, especially when good manners dictated attendance at selection of the bride party.
NZ Embassy - Tehran:
Utmost urgency: Confirm arrangements for the trade show to be hosted by me next month at the Iranian Nuclear Science Centre. Simon Gault and Al Brown have confirmed their attendance to cook lunch and dinner featuring fresh NZ seafood flown directly from source. Hayley Westenra and Bret McKenzie will provide entertainment. So that is the staff party. As for the trade show I gather that is in the hands of the trade section.
NZ Embassy - Delhi:
Not urgent: Confirm purchase of staff vehicles. Cost to be confirmed. Understand need not to appear extravagant in poor country. The Lamborghini and Porsche to be parked in covered garage.
NZ Embassy - Moscow:
Re query about $120,000 security system. Staff do not feel at risk. System needed to protect recently purchased collection of Russian religious icon paintings and revolutionary art. Includes "gifts" to local constabulary. Putin to open gallery and requires "gift".
NZ Embassy - Bangkok:
Very urgent: Ambassador's wife rushed to hospital for urgent surgery. Now well and recovering. Must be some mistake with invoice. Buttocks, boobs and face lift should read back, eye and chest surgery. Liposuction should correctly read intubation.
- The Press