Kea's World Class New Zealand team returns from a great tour of Southeast Asia

Group Jakarta Horizontal Kea 2
Kea staff members Ngapera Riley and Nathalie Malfeyt recently returned from an incredible Kea tour through South East Asia. The two-week journey took place across five countries and six cities, including Bali, Jakarta, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.


Throughout the journey, they were privileged to meet with over 400 inspiring people, all bound by a common passion for New Zealand. These included Kea members, World Class New Zealanders, trade commissioners, entrepreneurs, Michelin Star chefs and scientists, to name a few, working across an incredible range of industries.

Why did they go? The NZ government has identified Southeast Asia as an area of increasing importance to New Zealand, with the recent signing of TPPA and emerging business opportunities. The purpose of the trip was to find out more about how Kea could build relationships, grow its membership in areas where we are not so well known (Bali Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh), and to connect, engage and deepen relationships where we have more established networks (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok). A top priority was to meet with NZ Inc partners NZTE, MFAT, Education NZ, and Immigration NZ, and the NZ Chambers of Commerce in each city to see how we can all play our part in supporting NZ businesses across the region.

Global Director, Ngapera Riley share's some highlights from her journey 

Ambassador dinner Bangkok 450“Firstly, wow, I am still coming down off my travel high after our trip!

I had never been to Indonesia, Malaysia or Vietnam before and even though I had researched the profiles of all the people we met with in advance, there is nothing quite like meeting people face to face and getting to know them. In my role, I am constantly inspired by the people I meet and what they have achieved. It makes me think about my legacy and what I can do to contribute to NZ and the world. I would love to tell you about all the amazing Kiwis and Friends of New Zealand we met, but given there were 400 of them, for the purpose of this update I will try to keep it to one per city.

I am so impressed and proud of the quality of New Zealanders we have in the ASEAN region, who want to share their time, contacts, experience and expertise for the better good of our great country. Our ambassadors, trade commissioners, BDMs and all the folks who are paid to focus on creating strategic relationships and business opportunities for NZ are truly World Class. I cannot begin to tell you the level of professionalism, intelligence and hard work our NZ Inc family are doing for our country in these regions. Meeting Dr Trevor Matheson, New Zealand's Ambassador to Indonesia, was a real highlight for me. Not only is he a true scholar and gentleman, he is able to speak Maori and we found out that we both grew up in my home town of Owhata, in Rotorua. Connections are everywhere!

The most mind blowing thing of all was meeting and being inspired by all the wonderful people who don't get paid to help their country. This includes Kea members, honorary consuls, chambers of commerce, World Class New Zealanders, friends of New Zealand and alumni. 

We met New Zealand's Honorary Consul in Bali, Mrs Indy Siddik, a dynamite business woman and the consummate host. We are so lucky to have her represent us in this region. We met Richard Tankersley in Kuala Lumpur - truly a World Class gentleman, for whom pages cannot describe what he has done for NZ business in Malaysia. Meeting entrepreneur Reece Kurta, who is working on a world-changing water filtration project, was not only inspiring but super fun! There was CEO and fund-manager Brook Taylor in Ho Chi Minh, who has some incredible insights into doing business in Southeast Asia and is interested in helping Kiwi business achieve their goals. Furthermore, meeting WCNZer Simon Valentine in Singapore, who heads up HR for UBER, was such a treat. His company is on the cusp of cutting-edge of innovation and Kiwi businesses can learn a lot from it.

These are just a few of many talented individuals I was privileged to meet on our journey. So many people approached us offering to help give their time and advice to Kiwi businesses and be a part of the Kea community. It really reinforced to me the value and importance of what we are trying to create at Kea.

Finally, my biggest learning was that Southeast Asia has incredible potential and that now is the time for NZ businesses to start researching this region and build relationships. It's relatively quick, easy and inexpensive to travel between these countries, and in many of the larger cities, most people speak English so the language barrier is not so tough to contend with. In addition, with such an incredible network of Kiwis, friends of New Zealand and NZ Inc professionals in these areas, NZ businesses really can utilise these networks to help drive further connections and business-growth.“

Overview of Trip Schedule
  • Bali: Kiwi BBQ at NZ Consulate, Seminyak. Co-hosted with Hon Consul Siti Indriyani Siddik.
  • Jakarta: Cocktail function for Kiwi expats, alumni and friends of New Zealand with Dr Trevor Matheson, New Zealand Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia.
  • Bangkok: Business Discussion and Networking Event with NZ Thai Chamber of Commerce.
  • Bangkok: Private Dinner at Ambassador Ben King’s home with World Class New Zealanders.
  • Ho Chi Minh City: Roundtable meeting with New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam for World Class New Zealanders.
  • Ho Chi Ming City: Kiwi networking event with NZ Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam.
  • Kuala Lumpur: Cocktail function for Kiwi Expats at the private residence of John Subritzky, New Zealand High Commissioner to Malaysia, and the Malaysia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce.
  • Kuala Lumpur: Roundtable breakfast with the NZ Malaysia Chamber of Commerce.
  • Singapore: International Women’s Day event with New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.
  • Singapore: NZ Inc Roundtable discussion.
  • Singapore: Business roundtable with World Class New Zealanders.
  • Individual 1:1 discussions with NZer's and World Class NZer's.
Key Outcomes

Asia Group Enhanced2

  • Kea had the opportunity to present to a range of expats, World Class New Zealanders, NZ Inc partners, chambers of commerce and local alumni groups.
  • Kea connected with entrepreneurs, engineers, ambassadors, CEOs, chefs, trade commissioners and NZ Inc colleagues, inviting them to be an integral part of the Kea community and help grow New Zealand’s Borderless Nation.
  • Kea identified 15 new WCNZ network members.
  • The trip proved a great opportunity for Kea to improve its exposure/presence in the ASEAN region, as trade and diplomatic relations between New Zealand and key Southeast Asian countries develop.
  • Kea worked closely with NZ Inc partners MFAT, NZTE, Immigration NZ and MBIE, receiving positive levels of passion, connection and engagement across all ‘friendly’ organization contacts (e.g. local chambers of commerce).
  • NZ chambers of commerce and alumni organisations in the cities Kea visited found great added value to their network. Kea helped to extend the reach of its events through their promotion across Kea’s media channels. Given high demand for Kiwis to connect in-person on a local level, the prevailing feedback was that Kea should be doing more to help facilitate and provide a platform to support local Kiwi groups across the ASEAN region. Kea is thus looking into the possibility of hosting an Inspire event in Singapore in the second half of 2016 to extend the reach of New Zealand’s Borderless Nation.
  • Kea's brand is really on the rise. It’s core assets (the World Class New Zealand Network, Kea's Connection Service, Inspire events, expanding digital reach and strong Government-relationships) are becoming increasingly well understood in the previously under-explored ASEAN theatre. Kea’s improved levels of transparency and communication are driving better connectivity. NZTE Trade Commissioner for Singapore Tony Robinson expressed great interest in Kea’s growing digital reach and platforms.
  • Kea can leverage World Class New Zealanders more broadly; serendipity is real, both in New Zealand and abroad. 
  • Kea gained key insights into Kiwi expat demographics through the trip. The majority of Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia's Kiwi expats work in the oil and gas, travel and tourism, and hospitality industries. A greater proportion of Kiwi expats in Singapore and Malaysia work in a variety of professional services roles with multinational firms in higher management roles.
  • Kea sees an increasing role and ‘sweet spot’ for its service offerings as a landing pad for returning expats. This is an argument we often heard in more mature expat markets, such as Malaysia and Singapore, where people are thinking of returning back to the NZ labour market.