On the 1st of October, Dame Cindy and Dr Davies travelled to Kuala Lumpur to begin their official visit to Malaysia, at the invitation of His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to commemorate the 66th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries. On arrival at the airport, they were greeted by a Guard of Honour and met with Hannah Yeoh, Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister. The first engagement of the visit was a mihi whakatau with New Zealand High Commission staff in Kuala Lumpur, followed by a reception with prominent Malaysian alumni from Otago, Canterbury and Victoria Universities.
Day two of the visit saw Their Excellencies attend their official State Welcome, hosted by King Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Queen Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah. The State Welcome included an inspection of the Guard of Honour, a State Banquet, an audience with the King and Queen, and the naming of an orchid ‘Vanda Cynthia Kiro’ after Dame Cindy. At the State Welcome, it was a rare honour to have Queen Raja Permaisuri joining Dame Cindy in singing a waiata, Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi.
At the invitation of Raja Permaisuri Agong, Dame Cindy had the chance to visit the Kraft Komplex to see traditional Tenun Pahang Diraja weaving. The Malaysian Queen is an expert in Malay crafts, particularly this form of textile weaving. Traditional Malay weaving skills were at risk of disappearing, with there being only 15 certified weavers in 2006. Her Majesty the Queen is regarded as having reinvigorated the craft by founding a vocational training course, and establishing a weaving programme in prisons. In 2022 there are now over 330 certified weavers.
Dame Cindy and Dr Davies also met with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime Minister of Malaysia. They were joined by Zambry Abdul Kadir, Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Beginning the third day of the visit, Dame Cindy was hosted at a Women’s Leadership Breakfast, attended by emerging and established female leaders in Malaysia. The remarkable women shared their journeys across a range of sectors, including Datuk Nicol Ann David, considered to be the greatest women’s squash player of all time.
Later that day, Dame Cindy and Dr Davies visited Kolej Yayasan Saad, a co-educational boarding school in Melaka. The school has enabled 80-100 students to study at New Zealand universities each year, with 600 graduates since 2017. Their Excellencies then had a heritage tour of Melaka, which is home to a UNESCO Heritage site.
For the final day of the visit, Dame Cindy met with His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah, the Sultan of the state of Perak. Sultan Nazrin is Malaysia’s Deputy King, the Chancellor of the University of Malaysia, and served as co-Chair of the UN Panel on Humanitarian Financing. Sultan Nazrin is also an avid supporter of the All Blacks, visiting New Zealand to watch them win the World Cup in 2011.
Next, they had lunch with Fugee School staff and students. Fugee School is a refugee learning centre helping former refugees resettle in Malaysia, and offers scholarships for the students to help them study tertiary education.
Dame Cindy and Dr Davies then visited the Jungle School Gombak, which is an indigenous school empowering the Orang Asli tribe to share their cultural heritage and knowledge. At the school, the Orang Asli tribe teach their jungle survival skills, traditional cooking and hut making, jungle law and rainforest sustainability. For their visit Dame Cindy and Dr Davies experienced a traditional dance performance, Orang Asli cooking and a cultural arts and craft demonstration.
For the final engagement, Dame Cindy and Dr Davies visited St John Ambulance of Malaysia to learn about their humanitarian work. Earlier this year, Dame Cindy had met Dato’ Lai See Ming, Commander-in-Chief and Chairperson of St John Ambulance Malaysia, at the St John Grand Council which was held in New Zealand.
More photos from this visit can be found at this link: Official Visit to Malaysia.