Ambassador Peter Ryan in a “Korowai” Maori cloak with New Zealand Governor General Patsy Reddy, who has Irish ancestral ties to County Laois.
By Irish Echo Staff
Peter Ryan, formerly Ireland’s Deputy Consul General in New York, is, from today, Ireland’s first resident ambassador in New Zealand.
Dubliner Ryan presented his credentials to New Zealand governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.
He followed by delivering his first words as ambassador in three languages: Irish, Maori and English.
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As first resident ambassador, Ryan takes up office in a country with which Ireland has had cultural and familial relations since the first European settlers arrived in 1840. Today, New Zealand is home to 15,000 Irish-born and as many as 900,000 people of Irish heritage.
Before his posting to Wellington, Ryan was Irish Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau.
That, too, was an Irish diplomatic first and part of a plan by the Irish government to significantly expand Ireland’s diplomatic presence around the world in the next few years.
The opening of the new embassy was first announced by President Michael D. Higgins during his visit to New Zealand last year and is a landmark step for Ireland’s developing of deeper and closer relations in the Pacific Region where New Zealand plays a leading role, said a release from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The new Irish embassy will be in Wellington, the nation’s capital situated at the southern end of the North Island. An honorary consulate will continue to function in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.
The credential presenting ceremony included a guard of honor from the New Zealand Defense Forces and a “Powhiri,” a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.
To show respect for New Zealand traditional culture, Ambassador Ryan wore a “Korowai,” a Maori cloak supplied by one of the elders of the Ngati Kahungunu people of Hawkes Bay.
In his remarks, Ambassador Ryan said in part: “I am deeply honored to have been given the privilege of representing Ireland as the first resident Ambassador to New Zealand. In taking up the role, I am conscious that we are indeed fortunate to enjoy special ties of kinship and history with New Zealand and with the many New Zealanders of Irish heritage.
“I am particularly mindful today of the rich contribution of generations of Irish women and men to the development of New Zealand and their love of both countries.
“Indeed, as you will recall, this sentiment was to the forefront during the successful State Visit of President Higgins to New Zealand last year when he was accorded the warmest of Kiwi welcomes and greatly enjoyed his time here.
“Our small dynamic island nations share many values, as reflected in our commitment to the United Nations where we work together and with other like-minded nations to advance fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
“Our countries are to be found in the frontline of global efforts on disarmament, peacekeeping and assistance to our partner developing countries.
“We also share similarities in terms of our economic development, as island states with open, export-driven low regulation economies.
“While trade in goods and services between our countries is growing, I believe we can further increase this figure in the coming period, particularly against the backdrop of the trade negotiations between the European Union and New Zealand.”
Ireland has long had diplomatic relations with New Zealand but these were handled out of the Irish Embassy in the Australian capital Canberra.