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Salient. Special Salient Issue. Careers Information Week. 1961

External Affairs Department

page 3

External Affairs Department

About one-third of all the Public Servants in New Zealand who hold a Master's degree with first or second class honours are in the External Affairs Department. Among this group you find a considerable number who have taken overseas as well as New Zealand degrees; you find post-graduate scholars and Rhodes scholars. You find, in fact, the sort of people who once used to leave New Zealand because their qualities were not appreciated or could not be properly used. In the return of these people, and in the enthusiasm with which they have applied their talents to their country's service, is evidence that New Zealand is coming of age.

Why have these post-graduate and Rhodes Scholars come home? And why have they chosen to become Public Servants? There are many reasons. In some caseswhere they studied abroad—they found their attitudes changed by contact with British or Canadian or Australian students. In Britain, for example, it is taken for granted that some of the cream of the University crop, the best men and women of each generation, will make a career in the Public Service, just as some will go into politics, or business or the law. and just as some will make the University their career. The process is only starting in New Zealand. It will continue.

Most of the returning post-graduate scholars and the highly-qualified graduates who enter the Public Service have so far joined [unclear: the] Department of External Affairs. Few seem to regret their decision. They have been worked hard. Their pay has not been as good as [unclear: they] deserve (though it is improving; and when they serve abroad— which is for half their career—their financial position is much more satisfactory). Why is it that hardly one of these hundred New Zealand [unclear: diplomats] would swap his job for another? Here are some reasons:

First, work on external affairs is as mentally absorbing and reward[unclear: ing] as it is demanding. The problems dealt with are worthy of grown [unclear: minds]. They are problems of national importance. The range of [unclear: problems] is outlined in the annual report of the Department of External [unclear: affairs]. If you don't like a real problem forget about External Affairs.

Secondly, while the work demands research as exacting as any man as done in his University days, his work has a practical issue. He just, for instance, know the intricacies of the Laotian problem; but, [unclear: once] New Zealand lives could be involved and much money, he must [unclear: come] up with practical proposals, creative ideas for a solution. Again, New Zealand's future will be profoundly affected by the way the EEC [unclear: develops]: the burden of comprehending the alternatives and devising methods of protecting the welfare of New Zealanders rests on a very [unclear: small] group of people, some of whom are in External Affairs. There a sense of excitement in facing problems of this kind—if you're that [unclear: sort] of person.

Thirdly, if you work for External Affairs you are in a team of first-class people. If you're not a team worker this Department is not our cup of tea. If you are. you'll find yourself among a group of one [unclear: hundred] carefully selected people who get on well together, are [unclear: encouraged] to argue a great deal, are treated as intelligent human beings, and you will find yourself in a world-wide fraternity. Every country [unclear: chooses] its External Affairs service carefully, since on them depends [unclear: the] protection of the country's interests. The working relationships and [unclear: friendships] formed with people of the British, Canadian. French. [unclear: Australian] or Indian Foreign Services make a working life a constant [unclear: pleasure] also.

Fourthly, there is the stimulation of representing your country at [unclear: international] conferences—conferences on everything under the sun (which is why people with well-trained and flexible minds are needed, people with science degrees, not only arts or law)—conferences on atomic energy, the Antarctic, disarmament, Korea, the development of backward countries, civil aviation, the control of outer space, international health, the law of the sea, and so on; conferences in New York, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Bangkok, Tokyo.

Fifthly, opportunities come early in New Zealand's diplomatic service. The service is still young and expanding; it is a good time to be in. Men and women in their twenties and thirties have responsible positions at home and abroad—as diplomatic secretaries and counsellors, as vice-consuls and consuls. Two of our senior women diplomats are serving abroad as First Secretaries, one in London, one in Washington. They have represented New Zealand at international conferences in half a dozen capitals. The marriage casualty rate among women diplomats is high—they are selected for their outstanding qualities; but women are welcomed in the service and they do magnificent work.

The Department is now eighteen years old. The trained professionals are starting to fill the top posts as Ambassadors and High Commissioners. The career has a high ceiling.

Graduates may be appointed to either of the two main divisions of the Department—the political side, or the consular and administrative side. The work in each is equally demanding, although there is a difference in emphasis. The young diplomat or consul will find himself among congenial colleagues. He will soon be caught up in the swirl of international affairs with quite weighty responsibilities laid on him. He will move among men and affairs that make the world's headlines. His interpretation of events and trends will be the basis of Government policy and actions. He must be clear-sighted and reliable, able to think and act wisely under pressure. He must be a practical type; no ivory tower for him. He must be able to get on with people and work in a team. He must be able and willing to become fluent in at least one foreign language. He must be able to write quickly and clearly in English. As New Zealand sets up further missions abroad there will be increasing need in the service for men and women with these qualities.

The starting pay is not as good as the University's. Annual leave is brief. There is no sabbatical year.