Meets with Staff and Their Families of Mission New Zealand

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Wellington, New Zealand
November 5, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning. Hi, how are you? David, do you want to say anything?

AMBASSADOR Huebner: Just briefly. Thank you all for coming. Good morning. We're delighted to have our boss with us this morning in the middle of a very arduous trip. As you all know, the Secretary is a fierce and effective advocate for two things near and dear to our hearts. Number one is rejuvenating, deepening, broadening the historic relationship between the U.S. and New Zealand. You've seen the progress we've made on that already. Number two, and in some ways more important to me personally, the Secretary is a tireless advocate for supporting research, resourcing, and caring for our missions abroad, including our colleagues and our families. That's no mean feat at a time of financial crisisRe, limited budgets, and pressures elsewhere in the world that might be a little bit more acute than they are here.

For some of us in the room, it's also particularly meaningful that under the Secretary, the State Department is no longer a place where our gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual colleagues are quietly tolerated. It's a place where they are publicly embraced, they are made to feel welcome and valued, and are starting to be promoted for the professionalism that they bring to the table rather than held back for irrelevant circumstances. There's a lot more that one could say, but enough is said by the warmth, the affection, and the energy that Secretary Clinton carries with her wherever she travels and it's my absolute pleasure to welcome her to the podium. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, I am so pleased to be here and I notice some of the school uniforms. So I will try to expedite this so that no one misses much school today. And I love these uniforms, so I must say, very, very attractive.

It is such a personal pleasure for me to be finally in New Zealand and I am so grateful for the leadership of the Ambassador and all of you who have helped us turn the page on our relationship and move toward a much more closely cooperating partnership. And I am thrilled that this embassy, which is small, but a hearty band is doing so much good work. Because it's not only that we are focused on and committed to deepening and broadening our relationship between New Zealand and the United States, but we want to work with New Zealand on everything from climate change to security. We want to partner here in the Pacific, particularly with the small Pacific Island nations. We want to make sure that we have a robust trade business and investment climate between our two countries. And it is a real honor for me to serve with all of you. And I just met another one of the Ambassador's initiatives in real life and that are the student advisors. I think this is a very creative idea, because we need to build up people-to-people connections and particularly with young people and the next generation of leaders.

I want to also thank you for everything you're doing to advance what we call 21st century diplomacy. You are helping to connect with people all over New Zealand and of course in American Samoa. I want to thank all of you, especially someone who's not here, Michael Cousins who went ahead to Christchurch to prepare for my events there. But the Facebook posts, the Twitter feeds, the Flickr galleries, all of that is very noticeable and really setting a high standard. I also know that some of you, both American and local staff members have served at our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and I want to thank you for that. I know what a commitment that requires and how much sacrifice is involved, particularly for family members. But we are very grateful to you.

I know also how hard it was when I had to cancel my trip in January, because you had put in so much time and effort getting prepared. And I wanted to give you a few months to recover from that before rescheduling the trip. But I want to thank you for everything you did for that trip and most particularly for this trip. Everyone in Wellington and Christchurch has been unbelievably productive. And I leave Wellington with a very positive impression of what more we can do together.

So to our Foreign Service officers, our Civil Service officers, representatives from other U.S. Government agencies, and to our locally engaged staff, it is a wonderful opportunity for me to come and simply say thank you. And I look forward to seeing how this relationship continues to grow and I will be asking all of you through the Ambassador to advise us as we take it to the next level.

Now, what I'd like to do is to shake hands and particularly to say hello to the young people who are here. But again, Ambassador, thank you for your leadership and thanks to this mission which has just done an extraordinary job in the last 20 months that I've been Secretary of State. Thank you all very much. (Applause)

PRN: 2010/T35-20