“See New Zealand and die” – Interview with the Hungarian Honorary Consul

Predictability is essential for developing diplomatic relations and achieving long-term goals. Rezső Sárdi has been representing New Zealand for 14 years in his honorary consular role in Hungary. He played a significant role in the bilateral relations between the two countries, strengthened New Zealand’s reputation in Hungary, and supported the establishment of trade and tourism connections. In addition, he handles the daily consular tasks.

An interview by Tropical Magazine.

-Which of the recent achievements do you consider most important?

For me, the real success is when I can help a citizen of New Zealand who is in trouble, by finding a comforting solution for his problem. By the way, this is the main task of honorary consuls, which ordinary people know little about. Of course, it is also very important to strengthen the country’s visibility. The deepening relations of recent years is indicated by the fact that both countries had witnessed state visits on the highest level. Recently, the President of Hungary, the President of the National Assembly as well as the Hungarian Foreign Minister also visited New Zealand. In terms of bilateral relations, the most significant diplomatic step took place when Hungary opened its embassy in Wellington. Similar high-level visits took place by New Zealand too, including the visit of the Foreign Minister and several other ministerial delegations from the island state whose beauty is unmatched.

Photo: Tropical Magazine

-How does the trade connection between the two countries develop?

In terms of the volume of trade, Hungary is New Zealand’s 74th partner on the list of the top 100. We witnessed great progress in many areas.

Several Hungarian-New Zealand joint corporations have been established, and there is a New Zealand factory in Hungary which produces roofing material. At the Embassy in Wellington, there is an attaché for commercial affairs, whose activity is very promising. The task of the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in Hamburg is supporting investments and export from New Zealand to Europe. The latest development is that a Hungarian family joined a restaurant where they promote Hungarian cuisine.

-What kind of joint educational exchange programs will support the cooperation between the two countries?

You have just asked me what I consider the greatest success of bilateral relations. Perhaps I should have started with the most important achievement, which is the success in educational mobility. The “Working Holiday Scheme” agreement was initialed, according to which hundreds of Hungarians aged between 18 and 36 can travel to New Zealand. They can stay there for one year. Meanwhile, they can study, work and travel, in accordance with their desires and financial framework. The success is indicated by the fact that all the places were taken in the first hour of the application period. The most welcoming fact is that the new generation can acquire experiences, language proficiency. Furthermore, they have the opportunity of building cross-cultural bridges. It can be said on a local level: New Zealand is a friendly country with great public security and tons of opportunities. Here, the creation of the human hand is overwritten by the all-powerful power of nature.

The saying “See Rome and die” can be very true of New Zealand too.

Photo: Tropical Magazine

-As you mentioned, it is worth visiting New Zealand not only because of the special culture and the world of the Maori. When we think of New Zealand, the picture of silky green hills from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy is what comes to our mind first. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the number of nights spent at the island’s hotels broke a new record last year. For the first time in 8 years, the number of foreign tourists exceeded the number of domestic tourists. Please give us an imaginary tour on this magical island.

New Zealand is the land of contrast, arisen from the encounter of fire and ocean. The northern island is dominated by fire and volcanoes, while the southern island is affected by ice. The sea can be reached within 140 km from anywhere in the country. Tourism is characterized by diversity. In addition to active volcanoes, geysers, mud volcanoes, hot water lakes, glaciers, ancient forests, fjords, subtropical beaches and many national parks are also waiting to be explored. Due to the isolation, special biodiversity has evolved.

Many species of animals and plants, such as whales, seals, dolphins and kea parrots, can only be found here.

-New Zealand is a country known as “The land of the long white cloud”. How can Hungarians travel there?

Hungarian citizens traveling to New Zealand may stay in the island for 90 days as tourists if they meet the requirements for entry. The conditions cover the financial coverage for the travel costs and the cost of stay, including a return ticket and a valid passport.

Photo: Tropical Magazine

-What are the most common problems at the New Zealand Consulate and how can you help?

People primarily contact me because of stolen or lost passports and different documents. In many cases, there is an accident, hospitalization due to illness, and rarely, but unfortunately, there is criminal activity. We are aware of their problems and – in accordance with professional standards, but without neglecting humanity – we do our best to help quickly and efficiently. We maintain regular contact with the Hungarian authorities and the police. Fortunately, the New Zealand authorities are not bureaucratic. They protect and help their citizens if they get into trouble.

By Gabriella GYÖRGY for Tropical Magazine