The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific. This post features Dr. Jonathan Coleman the Minister of Defence of New Zealand.
Who is he?
Dr. Coleman is a renaissance man. He was promoted to Minister of Defence in November 2011 concurrently serving as Minister of State Services and associate Finance Minister. New Zealand’s ministers must be members of parliament, and his constituency is Northcote, just north of Auckland. Trained as an obstetrician, Coleman then added an MBA at the London Business School and a year at Wharton. Combining those skills, he folded in health consulting with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to his clinical practice before joining politics in 2005 as a member of the National Party. He is a surfer and is married with two children.
Why is he in the news?
Dr. Coleman will visit Washington this week and hold meetings with counterparts including US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. US-New Zealand bilateral ties have always stood on a solid foundation of common values, but warmed considerably in the last three years as the countries aligned on trade in the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and moved to expand security and military cooperation. U.S. Marines returned to New Zealand to celebrate their role in protecting the country in World War II last week.
What can we expect from him?
Coleman’s visit to Washington comes in the context an increasing exchange of visits by US and New Zealand leaders. The intent of both countries to expand and deepen traditionally strong ties temporarily challenged over differences on nuclear ship visits in the 1980’s was laid out clearly in the Wellington Declaration on a new strategic partnership made by secretary of state Hillary Clinton and foreign minister Murray McCully in November 2010. While New Zealand forces have fought shoulder to shoulder with American counterparts in every major conflict since World War I, new efforts to focus on interoperability, provision of public goods in the Asia Pacific and substantive cooperation in areas such as intelligence sharing will be the remit of Dr. Coleman and his counterparts.
To learn more you can read the CSIS Report: Pacific Partners: The Future of US New Zealand Relations .