In 2009 public and private sector leaders from the United States and New Zealand gathered in Washington D.C. for the third Partnership Forum. The breadth, rank and prominence of the delegations were unprecedented in the history of US-NZ relations. Both governments again have praised the Forum for its significant contribution to what both Secretary Clinton and Minister McCully describe the strongest bilateral relationship in a quarter century and for its ability to bring focus to the outstanding regional partnership of these two Pacific neighbors.

There was both soaring rhetoric and sober analyses from Jim Bolger, Kurt Campbell, Rick Larsen, Kevin Brady, Jim Steinberg, Murray McCully, Paul Cleveland, Cal Dooley, Phil Goff, Jeff Bader, John Allen, Ellen Tauscher, Rich Armitage, John McKinnon, and Martyn Dunne on the state of the relationship and the geopolitics and security of the region. There were strong views on business, trade, and the environment from Susan Schwab, Mike Moore, Tim Groser, Demetrios Marantis, Andrew Ferrier, Bruce Stokes, Myron Brilliant, Dan Glickman, John Palmer and many others. There were incisive comments from Gordon Smith, Paula Dobriansky, Carol Moseley Braun, Sir Stephen Tindall, Wayne Boyd, Robert Scher, Bill Lane Mark Fitzgerald, and Randy Schriver to name just a few.

The Delegates were honored by the presence of top current and past Administration officials, Members of Congress, NZ Ministers, MPs, former Prime Ministers, and Chairs and Chief Executives of NZ’s major companies. The Council was especially honored and pleased to have Secretary Tom Vilsack return to the Forum, join the Delegation at the Embassy dinner, and speak at a breakfast, and to have Ambassador Ron Kirk attend the dinner reception. There was inspiration and a tutorial on the power of language from Kevin Roberts at the closing luncheon, who argued that the “US is Irreplaceable, New Zealand aims to be Irresistible.”

Through the gracious help of Ambassador Ferguson, the grand Forum dinner was held at the NZ Embassy. Diners were moved to hear America in song by the Cathedral Choral Society Chamber Singers led by Reilly Lewis and NZ Tenor Sani Mulaumaseali’i.

Twenty corporate sponsors led by Title Sponsor Pfizer and Diamond Sponsors Boeing and Fonterra provided the funding necessary to put on an event of such quality and importance. Platinum sponsors were Cargill, Caterpillar, Kraft Foods, Meat & Wool NZ, NZUS Council, Oracle Healthcare, and RMI. Gold Sponsors were Business NZ, Commonwealth Bank, Constellation Wines US, Google, MARS, Pernod Ricard USA, the Teese Family Foundation, Time Warner, the US Chamber, and Westpac.

Thanks to the uniting of two remarkable delegations gathered in Washington to focus on the relationship and partnership of New Zealand and the United States, the Partnership Forum was taken to an entirely new level of dialogue and importance.