The Dalai Lama met New Zealand’s acting Prime Minister, Jim Anderton, and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff, in Wellington on May 28, 2002. This is the Dalai Lama’s third visit to New Zealand, following visits in 1992 and 1996.
“We count China as a valuable friend, a valuable trading partner and a valuable part of the international community,” Anderton was quoted by AFP as saying in reference to Chinese objection to meetings with the Dalai Lama. “Our culture and our society’s approach to dissent is different — we can still have mutual respect for each other,” Anderton added.
“I don’t see any sign that that’s going to be a difficulty this time … the protest was made, we have heard it,” Anderton said.
Jim Anderton is the deputy prime minister and also holds four other portfolios, including economic development. He is acting as the prime minister while Prime Minister Helen Clark is on a four-day economic mission to Australia.
Foreign Minister Goff was quoted by the New Zealand media as saying, “In New Zealand the tradition is that we welcome the Dalai Lama here as a spiritual and religious leader as we would welcome the Pope here.”
The Dalai Lama was also scheduled to meet with Nationals Deputy Leader, Hon. Roger Sowrey, and Dr. Lockwood Smith, opposition Foreign Spokesperson, according to Thuten Kesang of the Friends of Tibet in New Zealand, which is coordinating the visit. Kesang said the Dalai Lama is also scheduled to meet the Parliamentary Lobby Group for Tibet, which was established in 1994.
The Dalai Lama arrived in New Zealand on May 27, after nine days in Australia. While in Australia, the Dalai Lama met Kevin Rudd, Opposition Foreign Affairs Minister, and Marise Payne, a Liberal Member of federal Parliament, on May 25, 2002. He also met New South Wales Premier Premier Bob Carr on May 26.