Asia Savvy 2022


Timothy Lawler, Asia Savvy Lead

I am a PhD candidate and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the University of Auckland’s Politics and International Relations Department. Before studying in Auckland, I studied a Bachelor of Arts in politics and a Master of International Studies, both at the University of Otago. In my PhD research, I focus on human rights and the U.S. presidency.

I am excited about the opportunity to be the Project Manager for Asia Savvy 2022. I enjoy engaging with students and young professionals who share an interest in Asia. This year’s Asia Savvy Conference is a great opportunity for young people to share their views on a range of issues.

My role at Asia Savvy 2022 involves working with the student team to help organise the event. I look forward to facilitating Asia Savvy 2022, and helping young people from across Aotearoa with a shared interest in Asia connect and engage in meaningful discussions.


Soupida Hongsouvanh, Communications Lead, University of Auckland

Sabaidee (Hello)! I am a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics and Information Systems at the University of Auckland. I was born and raised in Laos. “Where is Laos?” is the most frequent question I have been asked since arriving in New Zealand to study high school in 2017 as an international student.

Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia bordered by Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Before coming to Aotearoa, I had the opportunity to participate in the International Mathematics Competition in Thailand and the National Children’s Science Congress in India. It was a great experience to interact with students from many nations and share our traditional Lao dance.

Since I love travelling overseas with my family, I enjoy learning about different cultures, people and cuisines. I have realised how much fun it is to engage with diverse individuals while studying in New Zealand. I am excited to be a part of the 2022 Asia Savvy committee and look forward to meeting everyone who is interested in Asia and values diversity!

Dinah Towle, Adviser

My role in the University of Auckland is Coordinator for New Zealand Asia Institute. Prior to working at the University, I have managed international projects in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.  I have been involved with the Asia Savvy conference since its inception in 2011, mostly in the role of advice, project management, annual theme development as well a providing administrative support. I enjoy working with an energetic team of students who are clearly passionate about the importance of being Asia Savvy, developing relevant, innovative and thought-provoking events.


Arshveen Hora, Registration Officer, University of Auckland

Kia ora! I am Arshveen and I extremely honoured to be a part of the Asia Savvy 2022. My interest in Asian and world politics began as a teenager in India. I would ardently watch the news with my grandfather who patiently simplified politics for me. To honour him and my upbringing, I chose to study BA.,LLB. with majors in Politics-IR and Economics. I thoroughly enjoy my degree and extracurricular activities. I believe Asia Savvy provides a unique opportunity to hone my interpersonal skills and explore diplomacy in the Asian community. As the Student Lead for Registrations, I hope to be of service and learn more from our esteemed team members. Looking forward to seeing you all at the event.



Emily Talbot, Committee Lead, University of Auckland

I am a Timaru-born Auckland-based creative communicator. Having grown up in a multi-lingual and international family, I’ve always been fascinated by the world beyond my window. After a year of solo backpacking through Europe and Asia in 2018, I settled in Tāmaki Makaurau to begin a BA/BCOM. Studying international business and politics has opened my eyes to the world of Asia and nurtured my interest in Asia-New Zealand relations.

In a time when Covid-19 is forcing us to reimagine business and travel, young people are leading the way. I currently work with UN Youth Auckland and Social Innovation New Zealand to empower young people to engage with global issues and embrace their inner innovators. Alongside this, I am researching Japanese culture as a virtual copywriting intern for Tokyo-based language school Japan Switch.

I believe that diversity and collaboration are key to innovation and success and am thrilled to be helping lead this year’s Asia Savvy Conference. I look forward to having fruitful, future-focussed discussions with many of New Zealand’s existing and emerging young leaders.

Sivaram Anandasivam, Ambassador, Unitec Institute of Technology

Kia Ora,

My name is Sivaram Anandasivam. I hold a Bachelor of Business Management from Edith Cowan University. I am originally from Sri Lanka and moved to New Zealand in 2010. I have lived for four years in the United Kingdom before moving to New Zealand. I can now proudly call myself a Kiwi. I have worked in the private and public sectors in New Zealand for over ten years.

I am currently pursuing a master of professional Accounting at Unitec Institute of Technology. Also, simultaneously, I am doing a post-graduate certificate in commerce from Lincoln University. I am also currently sitting for my certified practising accountant exams.

I am elected general representative of the student council at the Unitec Institute of technology for 2022. I am one of the  Tony- Lee Hayward scholarships recipient for 2022.  Last few years, I have been attending the Asia savvy conference. My essay on Cross-culture was published at the previous year’s Asia savvy conference publication.   

I am eagerly waiting to meet the speakers and audience at the Asia Savvy conference in 2022. I am thrilled to be the ambassador for the Asia Savvy 2022 conference.


Darius Mortimer-Webster, Ambassador, University of Otago

I am a 4th year Marketing and Politics student with a keen interest in International Affairs and Trade, particularly East-Asian and ASEAN trade relations. I grew up in a family home that was always home to a selection of exchange students from across the APEC region, but really kick started my interest in Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Otago University National Security School.

I take every opportunity to learn more about the complexity and diversity of the East-Asian region. This year I participated in the Aspen ‘Trade Challenges’ Seminar; attended the Standing in The Future, Indo Pacific Trade and Security Conference; represented New Zealand as the team leader for Otago University in the recent HSBC/HKU international case competition and as the delegate for The Humanities at the APEC Voices of The Future Conference.

In my spare time, I enjoy adventure racing, climbing, and spending time with his friends.

I can’t wait to learn and share experiences and knowledge with fellow students in my role as an Asia Savvy Ambassador at Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo and look forward to meeting you all at the upcoming 2022 Asia Savvy symposium.

Damian Butawski, Ambassador, Victoria University of Wellington

Hey, I’m Damian. I’m a third-year Commerce and Law student. I grew up here, love the place, and am passionate about seeing it develop.
One reason I like the capital is because we have a vibrant culture. Besides Uni, I’m involved in numerous endeavours and enjoy travelling. 

I’m stoked to be the VUW ambassador and promote the rad things this organisation is doing. Big ups to the Auckland team.

Max Johansson-Pugh, Ambassador, University of Auckland

Kia ora,

I am entering my fifth year of a Commerce (Economics) and Arts (Politics and International Relations, English) conjoint programme at the University of Auckland.

I have had the privilege to travel and explore East Asia, seeing Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, all of which have left me hungry to experience more.

My studies have focused on the East Asian economies and the geopolitical landscape of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as extra-curricular studies with Soochow University and the University of California Santa Cruz, looking at business law and Okinawan society, respectively. These studies have fostered an ever-growing desire to immerse myself into the menagerie of cultures represented in Asia, while also maintaining an appreciation for how large the Asian continent contributes to the culture of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Combined with my passions in international relations, and the economics, politics and history that ties into it, Asia Savvy has shone as an organisation that fosters these desires, and I excitedly walk into the light. I look forward to contributing to Asia Savvy 2022 and hope to meet you all soon.