Tony Browne has been Executive Chair of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre since 2011 when he retired from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade after nearly 39 years as a New Zealand diplomat. He is a member of the Executive Board of the New Zealand China Council and chair of the Council’s Education Working Group.
He filled senior roles in the management of New Zealand’s relations with China from 1994 to 2011. He was New Zealand Ambassador to China from 2004 to 2009 and Deputy Secretary of MFAT, with oversight of New Zealand’s relations with Asia, from 2009-2011. Prior to that, he had been the Director of the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei from 1994 to 1997 and Director of the North Asia Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade from January 2000 to November 2004. He was Chief of Protocol from 1998-2000.
His time as Ambassador in Beijing covered the full period of the negotiation of the New Zealand –China Free Trade Agreement.
He graduated from the University of Canterbury with an MA (1st class honours) in History and joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1973, later that year being posted to Hong Kong to undertake Chinese language studies. He served in Beijing from 1976-78 and in the Asia Division of the Foreign Ministry from 1978-1979.
In addition to his involvement in New Zealand’s engagement with Asia, he had extensive experience in the South Pacific. He worked in the South Pacific Division of MFAT from 1981-83 and was Official Secretary of the Office for Tokelau Affairs and head of the Tokelau Public Service, based in Apia, from 1983 to 1985. After two years, dealing extensively with Pacific issues at the United Nations in New York he became the first resident New Zealand High Commissioner in Vanuatu from 1987 to 1990.
From 1990 to 1994 he was Director of the Domestic and External Security Secretariat in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, coordinating inter-agency policy on counter-terrorism, disaster management, intelligence and security.