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Photo by Peter Blank

US Embassy - Operation Break Out

UHC Admin —

US Embassy staff put out the red carpet for 20 UHC Year 9 Social Studies students and educated them on the relationship between the New Zealand and American governments.

Visit to the US Embassy 16 November 2020

As a part of a unit of work on overseas travel a group of 20 Upper Hutt College students visited the US Embassy where they heard about the role of the embassy in supporting US citizens travelling in New Zealand. 

They also heard that the embassy is involved in representing the US Government in direct talks with the New Zealand Government, facilitating trade and investment opportunities between the countries and is increasingly involved in publicity and student exchange opportunities in the USA. 

The students were privileged to hear directly from Ambassador Scott Brown, a great speaker who along with Nathan Carter, Economic Officer, kept students fascinated and who patiently fielded question after question.

The students were interested to hear about the fact that NZ’s relationship with the US is, in fact, a close one. 

NZ’s involvement with Five Eyes, space programme development through Rocket Lab (who is now establishing an additional launching facility in the US) and numerous other hi-tech NZ companies (Leolab and Zephyr along with the Sophia Flight relationship amongst others) means that our countries interests are very intertwined. 

Students were amazed to hear that our links to the USA go back before the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, where the US was a witness, to whaling stations on the Kapiti Coast.

They were also amazed to hear the 30% of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and one other US multinational fast-food outlet’s beef is sourced from New Zealand. 

 They were blown away to hear that in the last 75 years only two NZ Prime Ministers have not taken advantage of US overseas study scholarships, that Rocket Lab can put a satellite into space at 1% of the cost of Elon Musk’s equivalent and appears to be increasingly becoming the launching facility of choice for a number of US projects. 

Other surprising facts included that only 25% of the 150 US Embassy staff were US citizens. The rest were New Zealanders.

It was pleasing to hear that one of the significant factors involved in the strong trading relationship between the USA and New Zealand is the low level of corruption in NZ industry and commerce and the assurance that contractual commitments will be honoured.

The meeting ended with several students enquiring about the possibility of study scholarships in the US.

Students were then broken up into three groups to photograph iconic Wellington landmarks to prepare a Google Slide to send to a student in a country they would like to visit. All in all, a busy and profitable day.