New Zealand makes two key diplomatic appointments

David Pine to Delhi; Stephanie Lee to Hong Kong

Venkat Raman
Auckland, June 7, 2020

David Pine to India (

Two veteran diplomats will take up two challenging posts respectively in New Delhi and Hong Kong as announced by Foreign Minister Winston Peters on June 5, 2020.

David Pine, currently Chair of the ‘Trade of All Advisory Board,’ will move to New Delhi as New Zealand’s High Commissioner with accreditation to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal while Stephanie Lee will go to Hong Kong as our Consul General.

Importance of diplomacy

With the borders of New Zealand, India and Hong Kong under Covid-19 lockdown, it may be a while before they take up their respective assignments.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters, who announced these appointments, believes that New Zealand’s envoys must be career diplomats and takes personal interest in key appointments to countries of importance.

“As New Zealand recovers from Covid-19, out diplomatic and trade networks are more important than even and hence the government is focused on placing high-calibre career diplomats in important offshore positions,” he said.

About India and David Pine

David Pine goes to India to head our diplomat mission in Delhi at a time when there are heightened expectations of a Free Trade Agreement and direct airlinks between the two countries. Mr Peters has said that New Zealand and India should be ‘doing more together,’ especially as Commonwealth countries but Mr Pine would be aware of the ground realities.

India is allergic to suggestions of tariff concessions on agricultural and diary products and as such talks on a Free-Trade Agreement have been stalled for the past 12 years. There have been Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on Defence, Civil Aviation and Education but none of these has produced any tangible results.

Mr Pine is a seasoned diplomat, having been the Head of the New Zealand Missions in Malaysia, Brunei and Philippines and has worked in other capacities in New York and Canberra. As the Chair of the ‘Trade for All Advisory Board’ since August 2018, he has a deep insight into global trade, although not specially on India. The Board does not have single person of Indian origin.

About Hong Kong and Stephanie Lee

Stephanie Lee to Hong Kong (YouTube)

Hong Kong has been experiencing mass protests over China’s extradition law and these protests have often turned violent for the past ten months and Beijing’s recent move to impose tighter security laws on this former British Colony has sparked further unrest.

Stephanie Lee takes charge as our Consul General and would bring to bear her fine diplomatic skills, given the importance of mainland China as New Zealand’s largest trading partner.

New Zealand has a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Hong Kong (China) which came into effect on January 1, 2011.

There is a travel and safety advisory for New Zealanders in Hong Kong and for New Zealanders visiting Hong Kong. They have been advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations, “as even those intended to be peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little or no warning.”

Mr Peters said that Hong Kong is an important trade partner and a significant source of foreign direct investment for New Zealand.

“Hong Kong and New Zealand have shared values, open markets and common law jurisdictions,” he said.

Ms Lee has previously served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to ASEAN in Jakarta, with other postings in New York and Paris. She has most recently served as Special Adviser to the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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