Face-to-Face: Bill Maroni

While on a short stop in Auckland,  newzealandinc.com caught up with Bill Maroni – CEO & President of the United States -New Zealand Council.  We talk about his upcoming event –  the United States-New Zealand Pacific Partnership Forum 2013 –  innovation within the space and the increasing importance of Pacific dialogue.

You can find our coverage in the lead-up to the Forum at the newzealandinc.com event page

“New Zealand is so deserving of attention, because what people need to look at is not just the size of the market, but the size of the ideas coming out of this country.”

Strong words from Bill Maroni – CEO of the US-NZ Council – and the man responsible for organizing the upcoming 2013 Pacific Partnership Forum.

“Conferences today need to have certain qualities,” Maroni tells me. “They need to be dynamic and quick paced, they need to use technology and there must be networking.”

But in a competitive environment that’s not enough to set a conference apart. The distinguishing factor according to Maroni is the ability to bring attendees into the conversation on as many levels as possible. One of the ways Maroni intends to achieve this is via his innovative stories concept.

“We want the forum to focus on where New Zealand and the US are leaders and partners and showcase those stories. Whether the stories are about the efforts in rebuilding Christchurch, the combined American-New Zealand film industries, research, business or any other way that our countries are leaders – all of these stories have a broader implication and lessons to be learned for the rest of the world. ”

Maroni shares with me the first of his stories, a personal experience when he was visiting Christchurch to learn about the innovation and technology that has become an integral component of rebuilding the city after the February 2011 earthquake which struck while the fourth partnership forum was taking place.

“It struck me that there were lessons to be learned for cities all around the globe from Christchurch,” says Maroni. “The lessons learned from Christchurch could be applied to a city facing perhaps even economic disaster for example. Compare Christchurch with the South Bronx in New York, they’re both looking for ways to attract investment, promote growth and create jobs.

“They’re two different scenarios but they’re both trying to achieve the same thing. I think there’s a great opportunity to talk about Christchurch and not just what it means for New Zealand, but what Christchurch means for the world.”

Stories will feature throughout the forum, which will be built on a strong programme balancing business and public policy. Innovative presentations, off-the-record discussions and “once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities” are just some of what the forum has to offer attendees according to Maroni.

The Obama Administration’s second term of office and a new US Congress will bring a fresh set of issues and decision-makers.  By May, new initiatives will be underway and TPP will be at a critical stage. All of this makes the relationship between New Zealand and the United States one of the utmost importance in the coming years.

Relations between the United States and New Zealand were strained by fallout over the Lange Government’s decision to ban nuclear ships from entering NZ.

Maroni explains a group of ex-diplomats formed the US- NZ Council to keep the lines of communication open between government officials and private sector people alike.

Following the founding of the NZ- US Council in 2001, the two bodies worked together to strengthen relations leading to the hosting of the  inaugural partnership forum in Washington DC in 2006. “It was to help promote a dialogue between the two countries and strengthen previously strained bi-lateral relations and people found the first event so valuable that they decided to do another event in Auckland in 2007,” says Maroni.

Two subsequent forums have been held: Washington in 2009 and Christchurch in 2011.

The 2013 Pacific Partnership Forum,
Washington D.C.
19-21 May

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