Some general interaction occurs. The Society remains active promoting relations, such as through visits to the North. For instance, the Society organised a 2010 visit by Dr Tim Beal and Hon. Matt Robson (a former MP). This visit to consolidate existing relations and build new ones was deemed “fruitful”.22 In 2006, Tim Kearns taught at the DPRK-New Zealand Friendship School, reportedly the first Westerner to teach in the DPRK, and returned to teach in 2008. A team from the Miranda Naturalists Trust visited the DPRK to study migratory birds the following year. The Waikato Institute of Technology (WINTEC) and Kim Hyong Jik University of Education have signed a letter of intention to cooperate and work collaboratively. Rev Richard Lawrence, a WINTEC tutor, visited the North with Porirua City Councillor Litea Ah Hoi in 2011. This trip included discussions on education ties along with relations ranging from trade to religion, and a possible sister-city relationship. That year Karim Dickie visited via the Korean Friendship Association (another group promoting relations with the North), and visited again in 2012.
Religious interaction takes place. Humanitarian aid has been provided by the New Zealand Presbyterian Church. For instance, in July and August 2010 funds ($NZ5000) were raised from Presbyterian Church congregations, especially from Korean Christians in Auckland, to support a noodle factory and bakery opened by the Bongsu Church in Pyongyang. These were delivered by Lawrence the following month.23 Rev Dr Stuart Vogel of the Presbyterian Church’s Asian Advisory Committee has also travelled to the DPRK. His key interests and contacts are with the Korean Christian Federation of the DPRK, their two “open” churches in Pyongyang, the projects and institutions they operate and Christian house groups.24
Travel data further illustrates personal interaction. The DPRK was the main destination of 21 short-term New Zealand traveller departures from 2001 to March 2012. These were to visit friends and relatives.25 Indeed a former chief executive of the New Zealand Tourist and Publicity Department has advised the North on tourism.26 North Koreans visit New Zealand too. One hundred and twenty visitor arrivals by DPRK residents occurred between 2001 and March 2012. Of these, 32 were to see friends/relatives and 29 were for business. Eight residence applications by North Koreans were approved from 1 July 1997 to 5 May 2012, mostly under the business/skilled and uncapped family sponsored streams.27 In 2007 up to ten annual scholarships were offered by New Zealand to allow DPRK students to study here, but they are linked to progress being made towards denuclearisation. In 2008, a DPRK soccer team visited to participate in the FIFA under-17 women’s World Cup.