Thursday, June 20, 2024

Heads of Mission trio announced

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

They are:

  • Mike Walsh as Ambassador to Iran
  • Michael Upton as Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union
  • Kevin Burnett (pictured) as Ambassador to Indonesia


“Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-standing and constructive relationship with Iran, despite a number of challenges. Our Embassy in Tehran, which opened in 1975, is New Zealand’s oldest in the Middle East” said Minister Mahuta.

Mr Walsh is a career diplomat and has held postings in Samoa, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Kiribati, where he was High Commissioner. He has worked in MFAT’s Development, United Nations and Commonwealth, Environment, Economic, Trade Negotiations, Pacific and most recently Māori Policy division. His iwi affiliations are to Taranaki, Whanganui River, Ōtaki, and Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Mr Walsh will also be accredited to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Ethiopia and the African Union

“New Zealand and Ethiopia have a traditionally warm relationship underpinned by development co-operation, and long-standing shared multilateral interests” said Ms Mahuta.

“Ethiopia is also home to the headquarters of the African Union, and is an important political and economic hub for Africa. Given our values based foreign policy, New Zealand is taking a strong interest in developments in Ethiopia, particularly the current challenges faced in Tigray.”

Mr Upton has a professional background in International Development, with extensive experience working across the Pacific region. He joined MFAT in 2008. Over this time he managed the Pacific Economic Development Programme and has held several postings to Samoa and Kiribati where he was most recently High Commissioner.

Mr Upton will also be accredited to, Djibouti, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles and Uganda.


“New Zealand enjoys a strong relationship with Indonesia. As Pacific neighbours, with complementary economies, we are natural partners,” the Minister said.

“In 2018 we celebrated sixty years of diplomatic relations. The visit by President Joko Widodo to New Zealand in March 2018 was the first by an Indonesian President to New Zealand since 2005. During the visit, leaders announced the elevation of the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership, reflecting the increasing value of the relationship.”

Mr Burnett is a career public servant and has previously held roles at Defence and the Ministry of Justice.  He was the Chief of Staff at MFAT and principal adviser to the Chief Executive in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Most recently Mr Burnett was the Consul-General to Honolulu and Ambassador to Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of the Marshall Islands.

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