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  -  Business   -  North Asia Business   -  Post-COVID series: Vaccination update from the region
An image of COVID-19 scientists in a laboratory

31 March 2021

The North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence launched the speaker series ‘North Asia Post-COVID’ in the midst of last year’s lockdown to provide businesses and decisionmakers with up-to-date knowledge and analysis of the region’s pandemic responses and commercial adaptation. We held a total of four online events and one in-person panel discussion in 2020.

Roughly a year on from New Zealand’s first reported cases of COVID-19, vaccinations have begun rolling out to border and healthcare workers across the country. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s key trading partners in Asia are in various stages of their own vaccination programmes. The degree to which Asian countries will be able to vaccinate their public will have direct implications for New Zealand, including our ability to travel and open our borders to tourists, international students, and greater volumes of trade.

Please join us for our next event on Wednesday 31 March 2021, to be held in-person in Auckland and livestreamed, which will explore North Asia’s vaccination outlook. Our panellists are: MBIE Science and Innovation Counsellor Clinton Watson, based in Beijing; Catherine O’Connell, Principal of Catherine O’Connell Law and Vice Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan, based in Tokyo; and Ardi Barnard, recently returned from four years as New Zealand’s Deputy Head of Mission in Seoul.

31 March 2021
5pm - 7pm (NZDT)
Zoom link will be provided when register
An image of Clinton Watson

Clinton Watson is the Science and Innovation Counsellor for New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), based in Beijing. From February to May 2020, Clinton was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, where he was Lead Advisor on COVID-19 Strategy and Policy. Clinton developed the alert level system underpinning New Zealand’s response to the pandemic, and was part of the team that advised Cabinet to pursue a ‘go hard, go early’ elimination strategy. He has also recently worked on vaccine strategy for MBIE.

Prior to MBIE, Clinton worked in a range of policy, evaluation, and economics roles, including more than six years based in Paris for UNESCO and the OECD. Clinton was awarded the James Bertram scholarship in 2012, which supported further postgraduate study. He studied Mandarin at Sichuan University and earned Master’s degrees from Peking University and Victoria University of Wellington. He also has a joint Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Canterbury.

Clinton is proficient at Chinese, Japanese and French.

An image of Catherine O'Connell

Catherine O’Connell is Principal & Founder of Catherine O’Connell Law, a boutique commercial law firm in Tokyo. A “Lawpreneur” and host of the Lawyer on Air podcast, Catherine is the first foreign female (and first Kiwi) to establish a law firm in Japan. Catherine has been in Japan 18+ years working primarily in In House roles at Panasonic, Olympus and Mitsubishi Motors as well as a Senior Associate at Hogan Lovells Law Firm in the Tokyo and London offices, and 10+ years in New Zealand in private practice with Anderson Lloyd. She is bilingual.

Catherine is passionate about giving back to the community and serves as the Vice-Chair of the Australian & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of Japan focusing on bringing NZ and Japanese businesses together. She is also Chair of the Legal Services & IP Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and President of Women in Law Japan. She was the winner of the British Chamber British Business Awards, Entrepreneur of the Year category in 2020. Catherine mentors law students and lawyers, and speaks on panels and to students embarking on law careers. She believes healthy lawyers make happy lawyers and is focused on lawyer wellness and flexible working.

Catherine has a double degree in Japanese and Law and is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand (1995) and England & Wales (2009). She is a Foreign Registered Lawyer in Japan with the Tokyo Dai-Ichi Bar Association. More about Catherine at:

An image of Ardi Barnard

Ardi Barnard has been Lead Adviser Auckland for New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade since February 2021, having recently returned from a four-year posting as Deputy Head of Mission and Consul in Seoul. His previous postings have been to Cairo (2011-2013) and Riyadh (2013-2014).

In Wellington, Ardi has served in the Economic and Middle East & Africa divisions, and in the Chief Executive’s Office. In 2014/15, he was seconded for six months as Private Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ardi has degrees in law and commerce from Victoria University in Wellington. He is a keen photographer and lino cutter.