2018 National Conference - Wellington 18 & 19 May






This year's UNA NZ Conference 2018 was held in Wellington on Friday, 18 th May at VUW Hunter Council Chamber and on Saturday 19 th May at VUW Rutherford House Lecture Theatre 2.  

The 2018 UNA NZ Conference theme Global Summitry provided a new perspective and approach to United Nations matters. The topic of this year's UNA Speech Awards was very relevant to current UN and global issues: How should we balance climate change issues versus economic growth in New Zealand? Are they mutually exclusive? It gave contestants plenty of scope, required judgements to be made as well as research into the issues. This year's winner was Matthew Sutcliffe from Wellington College. Well done Matthew, we look forward to hearing of your future. 

Global Summitry
The world's nations have participated in major summits at important points throughout history - whether to discuss war and peace or various aspects of international cooperation and development. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries such summits have become increasingly global in scope, and the United Nations Organization has played a leading role in cultivating the "global summitry" that has shaped our collective values about everything from sustainable development, the status of women, and human rights, to population growth, urbanization, the internet, and climate change. Global Summits have become the hub of global discussion for not only governments, but for civil society, business, academia, and the media. Protocols have emerged that guide pre-summit, mid-summit, and post-summit decision-making, implementation and verification processes. But given the ever-expanding list of global policy problems and the failure of the world's nations to make genuine progress with some of the most problematic of them, is the current pattern of Global Summitry sufficient? Is the accountability of global policy networks and global commitments sufficiently strong? Does effective 21st century global governance require more? The UNA NZ 2018 National Conference will hear from a range of speakers familiar with Global Summits on their experiences to date and on their perspectives on potential improvements for future practices.

Conference presentations and reflections

Conference slides and presentations are currently being uploaded 

Keynote speech by Mr Fletcher Tabuteau

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs 

Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Regional Economic Development

Address by Dr Rod Alley, The Impossible Dream – A World without Nuclear Weapons?

Reflections on the UNA NZ 2018 Secondary School Speech Awards by Chair Peter Nichols

The exclusion of sexuality and gender diversity from the SDGs: How policy overlooks queer New Zealanders.

Conference pictures

Conference photos are currently being upload

2017 National Conference - Wellington 29 & 30 June

Conference Programme

Post-Conference Report

Conference Slides

Conference Pictures

The United Nations Association of New Zealand hosted the 2017 National Conference in Wellington on Thursday, 29 June & Friday 30 June 

The UNA NZ Conference in 2017 seeks to consider New Zealand’s engagement with the UN system and in particular with the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) which are the core work of the UN. The 17 Goals aim to mobilise global efforts to achieve these by 2030. How will the Goals work? What are the pitfalls? How will they be reviewed? What is the role of civil society? At this Conference we aim to provide a platform for promoting dialogue, providing thought-provoking discussion and mobilising efforts to achieve the SDGs in Aotearoa / New Zealand. The theme this year is: Sustainable Development for all? 

Our Conference Programme is available HERE


Rt Hon Helen Clark, former Administrator of the UN Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand

Localising the Global Goals - what is our plan?
NZ and the UN – New Zealand’s involvement in the United Nations over its First 50 years 
The United Nations and the Pacific Islands
Rights and Responsibilities: Indigenous and Introduced
Ki roto i te ngahere: Reducing Inequalities for Rangatahi Māori is a national imperative
National Secondary School Speech Award Finals: Is there a role for nuclear weapons in today’s world?
UNA NZ Annual General Meeting

Conference Report

written by Robyn Holdaway
Communications Officer for UNA NZ

Download the report HERE

The 2017 National Conference of the United Nations Association of New Zealand focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing the risks and opportunities of changing global geopolitical dynamics and the complex role of the United Nations (UN) in this context. The sold-out conference drew focus to New Zealand’s progress in advancing the social and political rights of Māori and refugee and migrant communities. A strong need for political will to advance the SDGs both at home and on the global stage emerged as a key theme of the two-day conference.

The conference’s opening discussion with the Rt Hon Helen Clark, which focused on her former role as the UN Development Programme Administrator, gave the conference insight into future challenges and opportunities facing the UN. The change in administration in the United States and subsequent lack of funding for key UN initiatives was described as a ‘crisis’ by Ms Clark, with initiatives such as the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), facing the withdrawal of US funding. The UNFPA, which aims to increase the reproductive health of women around the world, has previously relied on a baseline of US funding and enough political support in Congress to increase allocations. The executive decision to remove funding represents an uncertain future for the initiative. However, on the question of the UN’s future in the face of populist nationalism, Ms Clark argued that the UN had increased in relevance as an intergovernmental institution following Brexit. The United States also retains the same external economic and political dependencies it did prior to the 2016 election and its ideological shift inwards.

Both the discussion with Ms Clark, and Ms Carolyn Schwalger, recently Deputy Permanent Representative to the NZ Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, highlighted the need for greater participation from civil society actors and the media in UN processes. As described by Ms Schwalger, strengthening a robust and inclusive approach within the UN, as well as being pragmatic in focusing on the issues as well as political relationships (‘we spoke truth to power’), was part of New Zealand’s contribution on the Security Council. 

Progress in global responses to climate change were discussed with Ms Clark highlighting the pro-active leadership of California Governor, Jerry Brown, following the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Dr Kennedy Graham, MP and former UN official, however warned of the risk of uncoordinated ‘atomisation’ in an increasingly bottom-up response to climate change. Whether or not this transition is understood as a risk or an opportunity, the importance of ‘hearts and minds’ in advancing the objectives of equality and environmental sustainability which underpin the SDGs, emerged as consensus at the conference.

In particular, the role of political will in transforming the objectives of UN frameworks into impact was identified as crucial to the advancement of social and political equality for Māori and migrant and refugee communities in New Zealand. A panel discussion, Rights and Responsibilities: Indigenous and Introduced, considered New Zealand’s progress in advancing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the development of New Zealand’s bi-cultural relationship between tangata whenua and pakeha in the context of increasing multi-culturalism. The discussion on the rights and resettlement of refugees and migrants in 2017 followed from the previous day’s viewing of the Peter Coates’ film New Zealand’s involvement in the United Nations over its first 50 years, which presented New Zealand as a country leading the world in its resettlement programme responding to the Cambodian refugee crisis from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. This raised the question of New Zealand’s current and future role in responding to the Syrian refugee crisis and our policies on migration.

A presentation on identity for rangatahi Māori and New Zealand’s recent colonial past was led by UNA NZ interns, Liletina Vaka and Kahu Kutia, and highlighted ongoing institutional inequalities and the need to ‘de-colonise our minds’. As we face the 2017 election following only 54% voter turn-out for 18-24 year old Māori in 2014, discussions on political participation of indigenous populations seem more relevant than ever. Overall the conference cast the UN as an imperfect and uncertain institution, but one with objectives which are anything but irrelevant in 2017. Whilst the political will needed to back the advancement of the SDGs was evident in the room, engaging broader participation to support sustainable development and greater social and political equality emerged as a key future challenge for both the UNA of New Zealand and the UN.

The Secondary Schools Speech Finalists also spoke on the Friday to the topic “Is There a role for Nuclear Weapons in today’s World?’. Congratulations to Olivia Bennett from St Cuthbert's College in Auckland who won the national competition.

The Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and wellbeing
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnership for the goals

Conference Slides 

You can now view or download the slides used by many of the presenters during the conference. We were given approval from the presenters to make these public. 

Thursday AM - Panel: 'Localising the Global Goals - what is our plan?'

Marjan van den Belt - Victoria University of Wellington

Josie Pagani - Council for International Development 

Tara Thurlow-Rae - MFAT

Thursday PM - Panel: 'Development with equal weighting for environmental and social values' 

Mike Shone - Association of Former UN Officials 

Charmina Saili - Pacific Island Forum Secretariat 

Conference pictures

Helen Clark outside of the conference venue, following her conversation with Audrey Young, to start off our conference. 

Thursday morning's panel on the SDGs was hosted by Wellington based Comedian, Robbie Nicol (White Man Behind A Desk). From left to right panelists are: Col Louisa O'Brien (NZ Defence Force), Tara Thurlow-Rae (MFAT), Sara Kindon (VUW), Robbie Nicol (White Man Behind A Desk), Marjan van den Belt (VUW), Anaru Fraser (Hui E!) and Josie Pagani (CID).

Charmina Saili, with Past UNA NZ President Dr Graham Hassall and conference attendee. 

Charmina Saili from the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat presenting on Leadership, Ownership and Accountability for sustainable development in the Pacific 

Panelists on Rights and Responsibilities: Indigenous and Introduced. From left to right: Caroline Herewini (Womens Refuge), Zainab Radhi, Vanisa Dhiru (National Council of Women NZ), Valmaine Toki (Waikato University), Nedra Fu (UNA NZ)

Kahu Kutia

Thanks given to Kahu Kutia and Liletina Vaka

Secondary School Speech Finalists and Winner: From left to right: Joseph Sison (St Patricks College), Joy Dunsheath (UNA NZ President), Emelye Brown (Whanganui High School), Elsie Spiers (John Paul College), Sean Millward (Tokoroa High School), Olivia Bennett (St Cuthberths College and 2017 winner), Maddison McQueen-Davies (Palmerston North Girls and 2017 runner-up), Chris Bishop MP

UNA NZ National Council and Youth Delegates to the UN Ocean Conference in New York in June 2017.