The NZ-India Most Influential List, which was launched in 2018, has been received well among key stakeholders in both countries.

The exclusive list of key influencers that enriches and helps strengthen New Zealand-India bilateral relations, was launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the sixth Kiwi-Indian Hall of Fame Awards in August 2018.

Subsequently, it was launched in India by Minister of State-External Affairs, Gen. V. K. Singh and Minister for Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, who acknowledged the main purpose behind this initiative of celebrating the key stakeholders driving forward the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Celebrating the movers and shakers of NZ–India bilateral relationship

Every bilateral relationship in world politics progresses on the talents, passion, tenacity, advocacy, and exuberance of a few select personalities, which plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of such a relationship.

It is to the credit of their enterprising spirit and the seemingly never-ending commitment that often aids a relationship to sail through the unpredictable waters of international relations.

For the Indian diaspora in New Zealand, the relationship between New Zealand—a country they have chosen as their new home—and India—a country that many identify as their original home—is of paramount interest.

The Indian Weekender’s 25 NZ–India Most Influential List is an attempt to celebrate and acknowledge the key movers and shakers of the critical bilateral relationship shared between New Zealand and India.

There was a long felt gap in the space of any condensed information around key influencers in both countries that brings their passion and incredible energy to drive forward the bilateral relationship between two countries.

Interestingly, New Zealand, as a country, has progressively embraced people of Indian origin with much respect and dignity, resulting in a gradual growth in the size of the community, despite limited or almost non-existent institutional catalysts in both the countries to enhance the relationship.

Experts believe that this relationship, ever since officially starting in 1952, has always been cordial, though never of much substance—cricket and the Commonwealth being the only factors tying the two nations.

This has changed in recent decades with both nations demonstrating willingness to seeing each other in a new light.

While New Zealand has been fascinated by the impressive growth rates of the Indian economy in recent years and has been keen to harness and partner with India’s growth in a mutual win-win manner, India took note of the newfound interest of a small, modern, advanced economy from the faraway South Pacific region which has a thriving Indian diaspora. 

The fact that a vibrant Indian diaspora has been thriving in this picturesque land of Aotearoa without much attention has also compelled both countries to take note of each other in a different light.

In the past five years, there have been three mutual visits from the highest level of political leadership and many other small amicable meetings on the sidelines of international summits and conferences, which signal the encouraging new trajectory of the bilateral relationship.

Indeed, this could not have been possible without the role of key influencers, who continue to shape the relationship in their small unique manner.

The Indian Weekender’s high-powered and exclusive list intends to salute the contribution of every individual towards the collective goal of taking the NZ–India relationship to the next level.

What do people have to say about the list?

Lauding the initiative of bringing out this exclusive list, Minister Prabhu had said, “It’s good to have such kind of collection of eminent personalities which acknowledges their efforts in taking forward bilateral relations between our two countries.”

Simon Draper, Executive Director, Asia-NZ Foundation, who found his name in the list for his influential role in the Track II level engagement between two countries said, “It was an honour to be acknowledged by The Indian Weekender as one of the 25 Most Influential people working in support of NZ-India relations.  India is a long-standing friend of New Zealand’s and there is significant potential to grow and deepen the relationship.”

(Left) Simon Draper, Executive Director, Asia New Zealand Foundation (Right) Ralph Hays, NZ Trade Commissioner to India

“The Asia New Zealand Foundation is working hard to ensure New Zealanders understand the myriad opportunities in countries such as India, and have the knowledge, skills and contacts they need to take advantage of those opportunities.  We are also investing in bringing India to New Zealand, through visiting experts and other thought-leader.

“I look forward to continuing to work as a strong advocate of the India-New Zealand relationship, and thank the Indian Weekender for its recognition of me and my team at the Asia New Zealand Foundation,” Mr Draper said.

Earl Rattray found his name in the list for his longstanding illustrious dairy industry career and hands-on experience in leading a successful dairy business in India—a pioneering effort in bringing the two nations closer.

Speaking to The Indian Weekender Mr Rattray said, “When you are busy building a business from scratch, making gentle progress step by step,   it is easy to overlook that others even notice what you are doing, especially in an economy as large and diverse as India.

“Together with our Indian shareholding families, who had the vision and courage step out and embark on something new, we can now take some quiet satisfaction that we are making a small difference, and have growing confidence that agribusiness can be as exciting and rewarding in India as anywhere else. We plan to continue to invest to take our business to the next level. ” 

Ralph Hays is New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner and Consul General based in Mumbai, where he heads New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) in South India.


NZTE is New Zealand’s international business development agency, and Mr Hays, in his capacity of leading its South India operations, commands significant influence in driving business growth and better business-to-business relations between the two countries.

Speaking to The Indian Weekender Mr Hays said, “I see a lot of synergies between New Zealand and India and it’s a privilege to be included on this list.

“New Zealand Trade & Enterprise’s global connections make a considerable difference to how we help companies grow internationally. Communities like the wider Kiwi-Indian network offer significant value to businesses looking to grow and create benefits for both countries.”