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Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Diplomat Duo - Wen Chin and Michael Powles

Wen and Michael Powles in their Shanghai Apartment

Wen and Michael Powles in their Shanghai Apartment, 2008

Described as a perfect storm, twenty-four years ago on June 4 1989, student led pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing led to the shocking event that became known as the ‘Tiananmen Square Massacre’. The events were observed by one New Zealand couple who then became involved in the aftermath at the very highest political levels.

Of Chinese decent, born in the town of Sabah, Malaysia, Wen Chin Powles never anticipated becoming a diplomat with postings around the world or working on APEC and Southeast Asian issues. Appointed as New Zealand’s Consul General in Shanghai from 2006 to 2008, Wen is currently the International Strategy Advisor at Te Papa Tongarewa.

In the early 1980s Wen gained her education at Victoria University, Wellington before joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade where she met her future husband, Michael Powles. Fresh out of training, Wen’s first diplomatic posting was to Beijing on the eve of the events at Tiananmen Square. Just six months later in 1990, Michael arrived in Beijing as New Zealand’s Ambassador to China.

Lynda meets this dynamic duo to talk about "weathering perfect storms".

Gallery: Wen and Michael Powles