Within the last decade Australia and New Zealand, two of the largest countries that make up the continent of Oceania in the southern Pacific Ocean, have expanded their diplomatic and trade ambitions outside of their closest trading partners in Asia.
Latin America has increasingly become a focus of these countries, with both having opened official embassies in Colombia within the last three years.
Citizens from these countries are progressively playing a role in Colombia’s society as tourism and entrepreneurship opportunities have expanded for foreigners within the last decade.
Here’s a look at some of the most influential leaders from Oceania in Colombia.
Ambassador Sophie Davies
Ambassador Sophie Davies has represented her home country of Australia in Bogotá since the embassy first opened in 2017. She’s spent nearly a decade in foreign service, having previously served as head of Australian missions to Peru and Bolivia among other countries. In June, the embassy announced an innovative new education initiative in which Colombians seeking to upskill can take classes for free (in English) virtually from The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade).
Chris Ashenden is the founder of Athletic Greens, a global nutritional supplements company. Inspired by a health crisis he’d suffered, Mr. Ashenden launched Athletic Greens over a decade ago with the aim of having people address their ailments through nutrition and empower them lead healthier lives. Since then his business has grown, counting among his customers Robin Arzón, a fitness influencer and VP of Fitness Programming at Peloton, the wildly successful exercise bike startup from the United States. In Colombia, Mr. Ashenden founded the Da Alegria foundation, which works with Athletic Greens and local foundations to provide nutritious meals to children in marginalized communities.
Adam Armfield is an Australian inventor with a big heart. His non-profit organization, e-NABLE Medellin, has 3D-printed artificial limbs to help dozens of people wounded by landmines or who have suffered other conflict-related injuries regain some mobility and function. In a previous interview with The Bogotá Post, Mr. Armfield told of printing artificial limbs with the insignia of rival Medellín soccer clubs DIM and Atlético Nacional. His other company, Universo 3D, provides 3D printing services in the commercial, academic and art fields.
Emma Higgs is a co-founder and managing partner at the law firm Robledo & Higgs based in Medellín. She has over 15 years of experience working in corporate law in her home country of Australia, as well as in the United Kingdom. Ms. Higgs is also an active member of Colombia’s music scene, having launched the bar and concert venue Siete Pulgadas in Medellín’s Poblado neighborhood.
Tom Horrocks has co-founded one of the most beloved pizzerias in Medellín for foreigners and Colombians alike. Café Zorba, located in the El Poblado neighborhood of Colombia’s second city, serves vegetarian pizza dishes with fresh ingredients like hydroponic basil, roasted pistachios and fresh Danish Blue Cheese. Hailing from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, Mr. Horrocks opened the cafe near Parque de la Presidenta in 2010/2011.
Jeffrey Kitt is a journalist and media relations expert from Australia living in Medellín for the past two years. He began his career in the media in Harvey, Western Australia as a beat reporter for the local newspaper. In Oceania, he’s written for The Marlborough Express in New Zealand, and The Bunbury Mail in Australia. His work has also been published internationally in publications such as The Next Web and locally here on The Bogotá Post. He is currently a writer for Publicize, a public relations company for startups and large enterprises.
Adam Riley is the founder and CEO of San Blas Adventures, an adventure travel company that provides excursions between Colombia and Panama via the San Blas islands along the Caribbean coast. The company says it works closely with the Kuna indigenous people that inhabit the islands to facilitate its unique experiences. Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Mr. Riley has spent many years in Medellín.
Ambassador Lucy Duncan
Ambassador Lucy Duncan is New Zealand’s first ever ambassador to Colombia. The island nation opened their embassy in Bogotá in 2018 and in its brief history, has supported a number of agricultural and educational initiatives within the Andean nation. Ambassador Duncan is a career diplomat, having previously served as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Spanish-speaking countries during the United Nations Security Council as well as holding ambassadorships inArgentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Andrew Wight is an Australian science journalist residing in Colombia. Having worked for years as a journalist in his homeland, he moved to Colombia in 2013 to join the team of Colombia Reports, led by Editor Adriaan Alsema. Mr. Wight has been in Colombia ever since, having published stories in publications including Nature, Science, NBC and The Sydney Morning Herald, among others. He’s currently a Forbes Science contributor, covering science in the Global South.
Gerry Murfitt has made a career of helping launch and scale technology companies. The entrepreneur from New Zealand studied law and finance at the University of California, Davis before joining one of Silicon Valley’s top law firms for startup ventures. He’s helped incorporated successful technology companies including PayPal, and is a mentor at Founder Institute, a global accelerator for early stage companies. He is currently a managing partner at Venture Counsel Partners, a firm that provides legal counsel to technology companies looking to raise funding, incorporate or sell their companies. He is frequently consulted by both the Fortune 500 and governments, and is considered by many to hold promise as a future Ambassador to the country.