I found a treasure trove of historical data, fascinating anecdotes, and interesting personalities while digging through various archives to prepare for our two big anniversaries this year — the 70th anniversary of the establishment of formal bilateral diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the United States, and the 70th anniversary of the arrival of American military forces to help defend Aotearoa and the South Pacific from invasion during World War II.

At the center of both of those transformative events was the then-Honorable Walter Nash, sent to Washington in 1942 as New Zealand’s first diplomatic envoy to the United States (and indeed New Zealand’s first ambassador to anywhere). Ambassador Nash skillfully built and wielded significant influence in Washington and was a good friend and confidant of President Franklin Roosevelt. From what I’ve read, Ambassador and Mrs Nash were also larger-than-life personalities who charmed Washington social and media circles.

One of my favorite pieces of historical color, uncovered by my archive-crawl colleague Michele, is a chatty feature story about Mrs Nash from the June 5, 1942 edition of The Christian Science Monitor which reveals quite a bit about the times in which it was written. I smile each time I read the article. If you have difficulty with the reprint below, you can click here for a version with larger type.

© 1942 The Christian Science Monitor. Reprinted with permission. Image retrieved from ProQuest Historical Newspapers produced by ProQuest CSA LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Thank you to the Monitor and to ProQuest Historical Newspapers for granting permission to reprint the article here. I’ll post additional historical notes and anecdotes in the coming weeks as we approach our formal June commemorations of the anniversaries.

If you happen to have photos, film, artifacts, or family stories related to the Nashes’ time in Washington or the arrival of US Marines and soldiers in New Zealand, please let me know. I would enjoy sharing the stories and images here.

Another of the highlights of my trip to Samoa earlier this month was my first visit to Manono. Situated between Upolu and Savaii, Manono has a population of approximately 1,000, making it the 3rd most populous of the islands that compose the country.

The people of Manono were considered to be among the greatest sailors and fiercest warriors of the Pacific in ancient times. They were routinely hired as mercenaries by ambitious leaders of other islands seeking to extend their rule. Now Manono is notable in part for having no dogs, horses, cars, or large machinery, making it a particularly peaceful island paradise.

A local fisherman wishing us farewell on our return to Upolu.

Our captain and my colleague Joe, as we sail for Manono (in the distance).

I heard about Manono even before becoming Ambassador, and I have been very much looking forward to visiting. Unfortunately, my prior business trips to Apia have been too heavily scheduled to allow the excursion. This time, though, I made sure that we kept a day clear for the trip.

My colleagues Chad, Ben, and Joe and I drove from Apia to Cape Lefatu, the western-most edge of Upolu island. There we engaged a small, double-hull fishing boat to ferry us the two miles across the lagoon to Manono. It was a clear, blue, sunny day, and we thoroughly enjoyed the half hour sail.

Sweet Escape Resorts.

Approaching the Manono shore, near the fales of Sweet Escape Resort. Our boat was the same as the fishing boat pictured here.

Manono has four villages – Faleu, Lepuiai’i, Salua, and Apai. We stopped first in Faleu, where we were officially greeted by village matai with a traditional ava ceremony. I was honored to be welcomed with such warmth and respect.

Upon conclusion of the ceremony, the elders, my colleagues, and I enjoyed a robust traditional breakfast of papaya, banana, fish, and vaisalo, a tasty pudding-like dish made from young coconut flesh and cassava starch.

The traveling party listening to the welcoming remarks of the talking chief.

My deputy Chad, me, our Manono friend Leiataua Kilali Alailima, and my colleague Ben at the ava ceremony.

The girl prepares the ava, the gentleman on her right directs where the ava cup will go, and the boy on her left guards the ava.

The elder (at left) directs to whom the ava cup will pass, the young woman prepares the ava, and the young man guards the ava.

A tulafale (talking chief) with a cup of ava in his hand.

The tulafale (talking chief) speaks at the ceremony, with a cup of ava in his hand.

We started our walking tour of the island with a stop at Sweet Escape Resorts, where our boat had docked, to watch young men in the midst of preparing a traditional Samoan umu, similar to a hāngi but above ground.

The process involves building a fire, piling stones onto it, and then allowing the fire to burn down to embers. You then put green bananas, breadfruit, taro, fish, and lu’au (a delicacy made of coconut cream, onions, and taro wrapped up in whole taro leaves) onto the hot stones, and cover it all with banana fronds. The process creates a natural oven … and ultimately a delicious feast.

Preparing the umu, the boy in the foreground is scraping coconuts to make coconut cream while the men at the back are making a fire and filling it with stones that will heat up and cook the food.

Young men preparing the umu.

After watching umu preparations for awhile, we walked to Faleu Primary School. The students entertained us with the Manu Samoa siva tau, a haka, and several songs and dances, including a rousing rendition of  “Who stole the cookie in the cookie jar?”  

The kids succeeded in coaxing my colleagues and me onto our feet to dance the traditional Samoan Taualuga. When time came to leave, we all sang Tofa Mai Feleni (Goodbye My Friend), the traditional Samoan farewell song.

Faleu Primary School students.

Some of our new friends at Faleu Primary School.

Young ladies of Falue Primary School perform a graceful siva.

Several of the girls perform a siva for us.

We then walked to the village of Apai where we consulted with Women’s Committee representatives from all four Manono villages. We discussed Women’s Committee projects, shared views on development priorities, offered thanks, and then enjoyed lunch together. What the women prepared, though, was more feast than lunch – fried fish, marinated raw fish, chicken soup, macaroni with chicken, coconut milk, taro, boiled taro and bananas in coconut cream, other types of fruit, and fried doughnuts.

During lunch the skies clouded over, the heavens opened, and we were treated to an intense but refreshing downpour. The fale of course kept us dry, and we continued talking, laughing, and eating. My new colleague Ben performed admirably as translator. Ben is a former Peace Corps volunteer who fell in love and married in Samoa. He speaks fluent Samoan, and we were happy to hire him as our new economic and political specialist.

Consultation with women’s committees.

In consultation with the Women’s Committees of the villages.

Ben tells me that one can completely circumnavigate Manono in two hours. I had hoped to do the full walk and see the entire island, but our initial stops ran long because we were having so much fun with our new friends. I could not risk being late for a fixed appointment later in the afternoon back on Upolu with His Highness the Head of State, so we had to forego the rest of the walk around the island (as well as the umu second lunch waiting for us back in Faleu).

Because of the timing of our departure, the tide was out. The water was too shallow to permit our boat to reach the shore or any of the nearby docks. So, we took off our shoes, rolled up our pants legs, and waded out to the boat. Of course, Ben chided Chad and me for not following his sartorial lead, given how much more convenient and utilitarian a lava lava is when wading across a lagoon and climbing into a boat. (And yes, I destroyed all the photos from that part of the visit.)

A local fisherman wishing us farewell on our return to Upolu.

A local fisherman wishes us farewell as we sail away from Manono.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Manono. Our time on that beautiful island passed far too quickly. I expect to return again soon, however, and not just for a day trip. From everything I saw, Manono is a wonderful place to relax, vacation, and explore.

To all my new friends on Manono, a heartfelt fa’afetai lava for a wonderful day in paradise and for all the warm Samoan hospitality.

President Obama recently nominated Dr Jim Yong Kim for the presidency of the World Bank. A noted physician, development expert, and educator, Dr Kim currently serves as president of Darmouth University. He was raised in Iowa and educated at the University of Iowa, Brown University, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard University.

In an opinion piece published this week in the Financial Times, Dr Kim discussed the challenges and opportunities that the World Bank faces in poverty reduction and development assistance for global economic growth. I thought you might be interested in his views, so I reprint his words below.

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Dr Jim Yong Kim. Please click through for image source.

Dr Jim Yong Kim.

JYK: We live in a time of historic opportunity. Today more people live in fast-growing economies than at any time in history, and development can take root anywhere – regardless of whether a country is landlocked, just emerging from conflict or oppression, large or small.

If we build on this, we can imagine a world in which billions of people in developing countries enjoy increases in their incomes and living standards. Given our collective experiences, successes and resources, it’s clear that we can eradicate global poverty and achieve in our lifetimes what for generations has been a distant dream.

My own life and work have led me to believe that inclusive development – investing in human beings – is an economic and moral imperative. I was born in South Korea when it was still recovering from war, with unpaved roads and low levels of literacy. I have seen how integration with the global economy can transform a poor country into one of the most dynamic and prosperous economies in the world. I have seen how investment in infrastructure, schools and health clinics can change lives. And I recognise that economic growth is vital to generate resources for investment in health, education and public goods.

Every country must follow its own path to growth, but our collective mission must be to ensure that a new generation of low and middle-income countries enjoys sustainable economic growth that generates opportunities for all citizens.

As co-founder of Partners in Health and director of the World Health Organisation’s initiative to treat HIV/Aids, I will bring practical experience to the World Bank. I have confronted the forces that keep more than 1bn people trapped in poverty. I have worked in villages where fewer than 1 in 10 adults could read or write, where preventable diseases cut lives short and where lack of infrastructure and capital held back entrepreneurs. In all those villages, the local people knew where improvement was needed.

But for change to happen, we need partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society to build systems that can deliver sustainable, scalable solutions. And as we work for global prosperity, we must draw on ideas and experience from around the globe.

My message is simple: an era of extraordinary opportunity requires an extraordinary global institution. I want to hear from developing countries, as well as those that provide a big share of the resources to development, about how we can together build a more inclusive, responsive and open World Bank.

A more inclusive World Bank will have the resources to advance its core mission of poverty reduction. It will have a governance structure that provides legitimacy and fosters trust and confidence. The Bank has recently achieved a historic capital increase and begun an ambitious programme to modernise its operations. It has also taken important steps to increase the voting power and participation of developing countries. If I am entrusted with the responsibility of leading the World Bank, I shall ensure this continues. If the World Bank is to promote inclusive development, it must give developing nations a greater voice.

A more responsive World Bank must meet the challenges of the moment but also foresee those of the future. The World Bank serves all countries. My focus will be to ensure that it provides a rapid, effective response to their needs. I will come with an open mind and apply my medical and social-science training to take an evidence-based approach.

Finally, a more open World Bank must recognise it does not have all the answers and listen closely to its clients and stakeholders. I have led a world-renowned higher education institution and I will ensure that the World Bank provides a platform for the exchange of ideas. It is already working more closely with a diverse array of partners and it can build on these changes. The Bank has taken significant steps to become more transparent and accountable: it must continue on this path of openness.

Opportunity is nothing without action. In the coming weeks, I look forward to hearing the views of the World Bank’s constituents – clients, donors, governments, citizens and civil society – as we forge a common vision to build an even stronger institution, prepared to meet the world’s needs in the 21st century.

- JYK

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If selected for the post, Dr Kim would be the first development expert, the first physician, and the first person of Asian ethnicity to head the World Bank since its founding 68 years ago. In announcing the nomination, President Obama stated, “It’s time for a development professional to lead the world’s largest development agency.”

Earlier today President Obama spoke to students, faculty, and staff at Hankuk University in Seoul about nuclear non-proliferation, recent events on the Korean Peninsula, social media, America’s close alliance with South Korea, and other issues. You can read the President’s remarks here or view them below.

The President, Prime Minister John Key, and dozens of other world leaders are in Korea for the Nuclear Security Summit, a two-day follow-up to the original summit convened by President Obama in Washington in April 2010.

The leaders will review progress made over the past two years and discuss next steps toward the important goals of strengthening safeguards on storage and use of nuclear material, reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, combating illicit trafficking in nuclear material, and preventing non-state actors from obtaining the information, technology, or expertise needed to use nuclear materials for malicious purposes.

Given the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation, the ongoing process is of critical importance to us all. As I wrote at the time of the first summit, everyone is exposed in very real ways. Even a distant detonation would disrupt economic activity and quality of life across the globe. And no one can count on a detonation being distant. Extremists choose their targets opportunistically and unpredictably.

I encourage you to follow the summit in the news this week and take a look at the communiqué issued at the end of the meetings. Let me know what you think about the work accomplished thus far and the prospects for moving the nuclear security agenda forward in the future.