The “diplomat” who isn’t

The Herald reported:

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Kiwi diplomat pleads for MIQ space to attend world democracy forum

Auckland diplomat and consultant Andrew Lesā is desperately trying to secure an MIQ spot so he can attend the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, France next month.

The 30-year-old policy consultant for the Asian Development Bank and board member of various Crown entities, has been trying for months to secure a place in MIQ so he can represent New Zealand and the Pacific at the forum.

Lesā points out that one of the criteria for an emergency MIQ space is based on matters of national interest and argues that attending a forum with high-level officials at a time when New Zealand is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union is important. …

Over the past few months Lesā has tried repeatedly to book an MIQ place.

“I’m always at the very rear of the queue. It’s absolutely frustrating.”

He has also contacted ministers, senior MBIE staff, and his local MP and pleaded his case with an MIQ co-ordinator. …

Last week Lesā, who is fully vaccinated as are his family, managed to get in touch with the office of the Prime Minister.

“They are prepared to write a support letter for my emergency MIQ application.” …

The forum is not the first time Lesā has represented New Zealand in an official capacity. In 2012 he was the youngest member of a delegation on a state visit to Samoa, led by then Prime Minister John Key. And in 2019 he accompanied Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods to energy meetings in Canada.

Describing himself as a diplomat, he is a director of the Crown, sits on a string of boards including charities, Unitec, Manukau Institute of Technology, the New Zealand Maritime School, Emerge Aotearoa, and holds various community appointments.

He may describe himself as a diplomat, but he is not. A diplomat is an official representative of the Government. They are not self-appointed. They are empowered to both represent the Government and negotiate on behalf of the Government.

He may have been on the Pacific branch of the Labour Party, but he is not employed by MFAT and I understand they have not authorized him to represent New Zealand.

UPDATE: Fale Andrew Lesa has e-mailed to clarify that “Fale Andrew Lesa JP was invited as an individual in relation to his experience in public policy and governance.” and he made this clear to the Herald.

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