Bigwigs back Queenstown policy institute


Queenstown’s the base for the new New Zealand arm of the international policy-shaping Aspen Institute.

Aspen Institute NZ’s one of the United States-based institute’s 11 global partners, and the first in the southern hemisphere.

Education- and policy-focused forums will “encourage constructive dialogue on critical issues that matter to NZers”, founder and chief executive Christine Maiden Sharp says.

For its first three years it will focus on climate change, technology and inequality/intolerance, and engage people from all walks of life, including young Kiwis.

Aspen Institute NZ’s first seminar, held in Queenstown this week, was on artificial intelligence.

Its co-patrons are former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Deputy PM Sir Don McKinnnon, who’ve also held top-level United Nations and Commonwealth positions, respectively.

“Aspen Institute NZ will help raise the standard of debate on issues that matter most to NZers, provide access to an extraordinary global network and enable current and future leaders to contribute to new ideas on key issues on a world stage,” Clark says.

Former US secretary of state and Aspen Institute trustee Madeleine Albright says it’s an appropriate moment to welcome NZ as NZers “have inspired us all by showing resilience and a commitment to democratic values in the face of hate”.

“No matter its size, NZ is now in a world leadership role.”

The NZ institute’s board members include Queenstowners Jane Taylor, Sir Eion Edgar and Bill Moran.

Appropriately, Aspen in the US is a sister city of Queenstown.