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In September, ACYPL was pleased to welcome a six-member delegation from New Zealand comprised of Members of Parliament from three political parties. The group began their visit in Washington, DC before traveling to Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado. The exchange was carried out in collaboration with our partners, the New Zealand Parliament and the Colorado-based El Pomar Foundation.
In Washington, DC, the itinerary focused on the bilateral relationship between the United States and New Zealand and the current dynamics in American politics. US Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA), a Member of the Congressional Friends of New Zealand Caucus, discussed the areas of cooperation between the two nations. Further, the delegation enjoyed meeting with Kristen Soltis-Anderson, a pollster and ACYPL alumna of the 2018 US to New Zealand exchange, discussing current attitudes of American voters and the upcoming 2020 elections. The group also had a deep interest in journalism and free press, so a discussion with Politico reporter Daniel Lippman was particularly enlightening. Another highlight was dinner at the residence of the New Zealand Ambassador to the United States, Rosemary Banks. Overall, the DC portion of the trip gave the group a sense of the dynamics of US national politics and governance.
The El Pomar Foundation then hosted the delegation in Colorado for five days. In Denver, the delegation toured the Colorado State Capitol and met with Senator Faith Winter (Turkey 2013) and Annie Oatman-Gardner, the Regional Director in the Office of Senator Michael Bennet, who spoke about constituent outreach and party politics, allowing the delegates to compare and contrast with their own systems in New Zealand. While in Colorado Springs, the delegation was able to take a closer look at local government, meeting with the President of the Colorado Springs City Council and the Mayor of the City of Colorado Springs. To explore the US judicial system, the delegates met with Judge William Bain who spoke about his work on domestic violence issues in Colorado.
The delegation also enjoyed a variety of cultural activities, including touring the US Olympic Training Center and Garden of the Gods in Colorado and visiting the Smithsonian Museums and Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. One delegate summarized the experience by saying, “Though our countries are different, our relationship is mutually beneficial and we should continually renew our efforts to enhance it.”