Monday, June 24, 2024

Heads of Mission announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has today announced three New Zealand Head of Mission appointments.

“Sustaining our diplomatic networks are more important than ever as we collectively combat COVID-19. These high-calibre appointments will allow Aotearoa New Zealand to further strengthen our relationships with global partners at this crucial time and into the future,” Ms Mahuta said. 

The three appointments are:

  • Emma Dunlop-Bennett (pictured), High Commissioner to South Africa
  • Charlotte Darlow, High Commissioner to Fiji
  • Nicola Simmonds, High Commissioner to Vanuatu

South Africa

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s relationship with South Africa is our deepest and most diverse on the African continent. It is a relationship founded on common historical experience, and strong connections between our peoples,” said Minister Mahuta.

Dr Dunlop-Bennett brings significant experience to the role having worked in leadership positions at MFAT in Pacific development, strategic policy, and climate change. Dr Dunlop-Bennett, of Māori (Ngāti Maniapoto) and Samoan (Sā Petāia and Sā Te’o) descent, has previously held postings in Fiji and Vanuatu.

Dr Dunlop-Bennett will also be accredited to Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


“Fiji and Aotearoa New Zealand are natural partners, sharing a history of strong ties encompassing heritage, culture, sport, business and education,” said Ms Mahuta.

Ms Darlow is a career diplomat, and is currently New Zealand’s Senior Official for Pacific regional processes, including the Pacific Islands Forum. She has also held senior roles focused on climate change, environment, and international security, and has been posted to Geneva to represent New Zealand at the United Nations.


“Aotearoa New Zealand and Vanuatu have strong economic ties, with the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme sitting at the heart of our relationship. This creates mutual benefits for New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors and, for ni-Vanuatu workers and their families,” the Minister said 

Ms Simmonds is a career diplomat with experience across the Pacific and in development. She has been posted to the Solomon Islands, and held the Wellington-based role of High Commissioner to Nauru, as well as held senior roles in MFAT’s Pacific and Development Group. She has also worked in the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Switzerland and Bangladesh.

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