Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

UN chief warns on climate change

Ban Ki-Moon says he will deliver two key messages to the Pacific leaders summit opening in Auckland today: the need to tackle climate change and to work hard for peace and security especially where people were yearning for democracy.

The United Nations Secretary-General said yesterday his visit to the Solomon Islands and Kiribati had strengthened his conviction that climate change was a threat to humanity.

"It is even a threat to international peace and security."

He said the Pacific region was on the "front lines" of climate change and he praised New Zealand as a leader in promoting sustainable energy solutions.

"With waves rising ever higher in this neighbourhood, the oceans are also sending a signal that something is seriously wrong with our current model of economic development."

Mr Ban received a rapturous welcome at Auckland University where he gave a speech before holding a series of private meetings with leaders.

He was hosted to dinner last night by Governor-General Sir Gerry Mateparae at Government House in Auckland.

Mr Ban told reporters last night that the UN was heavily engaged in providing support and co-ordination of help for the new Libya, potentially including police.

He used his speech at the university to criticise the continued violence against citizens under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked about the use of Fijian soldiers as peacekeepers when the country was ruled by the military, Mr Ban said the UN dispatched 55 Fijian soldiers to Iraq because they had no alternative.

BRUNCH WITH THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL

As United Nations Secretary-General, one would imagine Ban Ki-Moon has little time for personal visits, but the international diplomat made room during his brief New Zealand stay to catch up with two friends from his high school days.

In 1962, Jocelyn Jones of Geraldine and Shirley Keen from Invercargill, then 17, travelled to the United States for an international Red Cross conference.

The 130 delegates at the conference were split into groups and Ms Jones' group included a 17-year-old Korean representative by the name of Ban Ki-Moon.

"We travelled all together in those smaller groups with a chaperone and they took us to different states; we were home-stayed and went to different Red Cross events in different states," said Ms Jones.

"Our chaperone was very good and she kept in touch with all of us for the first three or four years, but then the others drifted away."

Mr Ban was one of the group members Ms Jones stayed in contact with.

"Our chaperone just died last year at 101 and Ki-Moon went to her funeral in America ... it's been a good friendship between the three of us really."

Ms Jones said she and Mr Ban kept in touch mostly through email but had the chance for a face-to-face catchup in Auckland; Ms Keen went along for a trip down memory lane.

"I was just so surprised, because he's just such a busy, busy guy, in one country one day and in another the next trying to sort out all their problems and he's still got time for us little girls here," Ms Jones said.

"It was actually 49 years ago and Shirley and I were going to celebrate on the 50th, but since Ki-Moon was coming I just thought 'Push it forward'."

After meeting in Mr Ban's Langham Hotel suite yesterday morning, the pair had a chance to reminisce over breakfast.

"He was just very normal, not casual, but he spoke to us easily. It was just as we remembered him."

"I wrote straight away to him and congratulated him - even at 17 he had said he wanted to be a diplomat one day and, of course, he started off being a diplomat in his own country and got himself to where he is now, and it's just amazing."

- APNZ

BAN KI MOON ON...

Rugby and diplomacy
In rugby you lose teeth. In diplomacy you lose face. Rugby scrums confuse anyone who doesn't know the game. So do UN debates. And sometimes they can look very similar.

Xena Warrior Princess
It's good to know that [at Auckland University] you specialise in training for policy and politics but also peace and security . I sometimes feel we could all use a little of the spirit of Auckland alumna Lucy Lawless, Xena the Warrior Princess.

Helen Clark
I often feel that I have benefited from an Auckland University education. It happens whenever I sit down with ... Auckland University's own Helen Clark.

Mobile phones
Let us not mistake being connected with being united. Being more connected depends on technology. Being more united depends on us, on leaders, on institutions, on you.

- NZ Herald

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