There are 11 Commonwealth member states in the Pacific. The RCS currently has branches in only two of these countries and a honorary representative in a third. The Society therefore does not have a strong presence in the region, so we intend to build on this, to connect and work with other Commonwealth and like-minded organisations.

The aim is to ensure that the RCS can raise its regional profile and continue to interact with politicians, diplomats, civil society organisations, students and youth leaders; that we can engage with people who may otherwise not be aware of our educational and charitable programmes.

Regional Co-ordinator, Pacific: Darryl Stevens

Darryl RC PacificDarryl Stevens is President and Hon. Administrator of The Royal Commonwealth Society – Commonwealth Trust in Wellington. He has been a key player in the Society for more than 30 years, including representing New Zealand at international conferences in Britain, Malaysia and Australia. From his initial association with RCS, Darryl has taken a leading role in devising and managing the National Student Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, an annual conference for senior secondary school students. He has also been active in the promotion and official celebration of Commonwealth Day, ensuring that the Government recognises its importance. As Regional Coordinator, Pacific, Darryl is in close contact with the New Zealand branches and has attended the 2017 and 2016 Australian state branches National Executive Meetings.

In 2014 Darryl supported the establishment of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand whose mission is to provide opportunities for young people in New Zealand to become the next generation of global leaders. He was elected to the position of Board Chair for an initial term of three years and was re-elected for a second three year term in March 2017. CYNZ now administers the annual national Student CHOGMs.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2013, he was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to youth and the Commonwealth. Equally important to him was the recognition of RCS. 

Regional Youth Co-ordinator, Pacific: Amber Kale

Amber Kale220xAmber is a New Zealand geographer, portrait artist, and refugee rights advocate. She became involved with the RCS through her participation in the Successor Generation Initiative (SGI), Britain’s youth leadership programme in New Zealand.

Currently undertaking her PhD in Human Geography at Victoria University of Wellington, Amber's research uses collaborative arts-practice to explore former refugee and host-society experiences of displacement, place-attachment, and belonging. She is also involved in a political campaign to raise New Zealand’s annual refugee quota.

Regional Co-ordinator, Australia: Libby Ellis

Libby Ellis National Coordinator Australia 220x220Elizabeth (Libby) Ellis is President of the South Australian Branch of The Royal Commonwealth Society. Libby was invited to join the RCS through her involvement in supporting young talented classically trained singers in the boutique, professional touring opera company, Co-Opera Inc. RCS supported young musicians in a slightly more ad hoc manner and the synergy seemed obvious. The RCS Ensemble is now the orchestra accompanying Co-Opera’s performances as they tour all Australian mainland states, plus occasional visits to Malaysia & Singapore and Europe; the Ensemble also performs in its own name.

With a degree in Geography and International Studies, and a penchant for travel, Libby is a qualified Archivist and worked at the State Library of South Australia in a number of capacities including Map Librarian, Newspaper Librarian and Acting Reference Librarian for a number of years before being seconded to the State Department of Local Government where she co-ordinated Local Government involvement in the State’s Sesquicentenary celebrations. 

Libby received the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2009 for her work in the community and supporting young people in opera.

Regional Youth Co-ordinator, Australia: Jack Milne

Jack Milne Youth Coordinator Australia220x220Jack Milne is an adviser to the Vice President of the Commonwealth Youth Council, where he is facilitating a campaign, #IAmAble, championing the engagement of young people with disabilities across the Commonwealth. He is also a 'focal point' for a working group with International Disability Alliance. In 2016, Jack represented Australian youth at the Common Purpose leadership programme, 33Sixty, in Scotland. In October he attended the RCS Youth Meeting and, on behalf of RCS Victoria Branch, the RCS International Branches Meeting in London.

Jack completed his Masters Degree at the University of Manchester in 2016 where his enthusiasm for, and commitment to, the values of the Commonwealth were recognized and he was selected to be a student ambassador. In March 2017 he was awarded Associate Fellow of The Royal Commonwealth Society.

Intl networks Pacific 220

Darryl Stevens:
Amber Kale:
Libby Ellis:
Jack Milne:

What's happening in this region?

Kanti2June 2018: RCS Australian Capital Territory Branch Vice President, Kanti Lal Jinna's service to the multicultural community of ACT has been recognised by the Australian Government with a Medal of the Order of Australia. At the celebration, The Indian High Commissioner, Alistair Coe and Elizabeth (Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs) spoke warmly and eloquently, as did countless others, of Kanti's many attributes and the incredible contribution he has made to the multicultural and multi-faith life of the Canberra community. The affection and respect in which he is held was palpable in a room full with people who braved the cold Canberra night to be there to congratulate him and celebrate his award. Kanti himself spoke with his usual modesty and generosity and went out of his way to highlight the importance of the RCS as a force for good. 

Pictured R-L OAM Kanti Lal Jinna, SBS Gujarati Executive Producer Nital Desai and Mrs Jyoti Jinna (SBS Gujarati)

Auckland LeonieLawson2May 2018, RCS Auckland Branch. Leonie Lawson MNZM proudly displays her certificate marking 60 years of membership and 10 years as President of the Auckland branch of the RCS. Leonie retired from the presidency at the AGM in May, handing over to Dr Josephine Howse PhD.




WellingtonCD Image 4 resizedCommonwealth Day, Wellington Branch, NZ Finn Bodkin, a member of the NZ National Youth Orchestra, performed at the National Observance Service at the Cathedral of St Paul in Wellington. The multi-faith service was attended by New Zealand's Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, who read the message from Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, and  the Hon. Andrew Little, who read a message from the Prime Minister. The service included readings from the Hindu, Islamic, Sikh and Baha'i faiths.

CanberraIMG 2864 crop25 January 2018: The Queen’s Baton Relay started on the final leg of its journey around the Commonwealth when it arrived in Canberra. Among the participants, all chosen for their contributions to the community, was Sue Gage (pictured), nominated for her animal welfare work by her daughter, Dimity Douglas, a member of Australia’s swimming team at the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in 1982 and Edinburgh 1986. The host nation of each Commonwealth Games traditionally designs and makes the baton. For the 2018 Games, it has been made from native Queensland macadamia wood and reclaimed plastic from Gold Coast waters. Some 3,800 bearers will carry the Queen’s baton around every state and territory in Australia until the Games begin on Queensland’s Gold Coast on 4 April. By then, it will have travelled over 230,000 km across the Commonwealth, carrying the Queen’s message calling on athletes to come together in peaceful and friendly competition; the longest journey it its 60 year history. 
Photo and commentary, RCS ACT Branch Vice President, Maureen Hickman

SA LaBohemeIMG 5527 340xDecember 2017: The RCS Ensemble, accompanied the professional opera company Co-Opera, in a performance 'La Boheme' in a collaborative venture to give performance experience to talented younger musicians, singers and technical crew and to take high quality  performances to small country towns.

Every year Co-Opera and the RCS Ensemble tour regional and remote Australia. In 2018 they will tour 'The Barber of Seville'.

Victoria essay comp group1web29 November 2017: RCS Victoria Branch held an event to celebrate local entrants of The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition. The evening was a great success with 70 attendees made up of students, teachers and parents. 33 awards were presented, with prizes; Winners, Runner-ups, Special Commendations and Merit Awards. The Junior Category Winner was Kamalinee Kamalakaran of The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School; the Senior Category Winner was Bo Sergeant who attends Melbourne Grammar School. In total there were 262 entrants to the competition from Victoria, Australia.

SA Mozart IMG 4915 340xSunday 19 October: The Royal Commonwealth Society Ensemble presented its program of exquisite Mozart compositions at Flinders Street Baptist Church, Adelaide. Performing were the WindSong Quintet, Bronzewing Quartet and celebrated tenor Branko Lovrinov, accompanied by Mark Sandon on piano. The program included celebrated chamber music works The Hunt Quartet K458, Clarinet Quintet K581, Wind Quintet K581. Pictured: The Windsong Quartet.


AusNEMP1080267Crop resize5-7 May: RCS South Australia Branch hosted the annual National Executive Meeting (NEM) of Australian branches with speakers, discussion sessions, and entertainment including a reception at Government House, a tour of Parliament House, afternoon tea with the Deputy Lord Mayor, a multi-faith celebration at St. Peter’s Cathedral, a visit to the opera and both formal and informal dinners. Sessions included the appointment of national co-ordinators, information about The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, reports from Darryl Stevens, Regional Co-ordinator for the Pacific, Elizabeth Neuman on the Commission on the Status of Women and The International Council of Women, while Kanti Jinna chaired a follow-up to the 2016 NEM held in Canberra. A lively youth debate on the topic: ‘Aggressive Peace Policies are the only way forward for the Commonwealth’, was followed by agreement for youth members and Associate Fellows to generate activities, goals and projects. Guests included Peter Mann, Chair of RCS Hong Kong Branch and branch Patron SA Governor Hieu van Le. 

Wellington12 March 2017: RCS Wellington Branch organised a National Observance at the Wellington Cathedral of St. Paul. Attended by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy, the service included reflections by Dr Rebecca Dudley, International Humanitarian Law Advisor, NZ Red Cross, and Alex Bengree, 2017 Runner-up Queen's Young Leader. Representatives of the Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and Buddhist faiths shared prayers and readings and the High Commissioner of Canada gave the scripture reading. Outgoing CYNZ Director, Aaron Hape, read the Affirmations. A reception at Parliament followed, hosted by the Hon Louise Upston, on behalf of the Prime Minister

Auckland 53Crop resize12 March 2017: RCS Auckland Branch attracted 150 attendees to their Commonwealth Service, including Members of Parliament, Consuls, City Councillors, the British High Commissioner, youth groups and members of the public, despite local floods. Marek Townley (pictured), an executive member of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand (CYNZ) introduced this year's theme and emphasized it was up to each individual to do their part in promoting the advance of peace saying: “Peace-building depends on personal action. As Commonwealth members, what steps will you take to build peace in your communities?  In the next hour, in the coming days, weeks and months, what will you do?"  

 VicDSC02513CROP9 March 2017 RCS Victoria Branchcelebrated Commonwealth Day with a function of combined RCS Victoria Members and the Council of British and Commonwealth Societies members. The guest of Honour was Mr. Westmoreland Palon, Consul-General of Malaysia and his wife Mrs. Elvinna Luhum. Considerable Commonwealth information was handed out to all present. Pictured, guests 'peace-building', in support of this year's Commonwealth theme.

South Australia Art SessionAugust 2016 RCS South Australia Branch On the initiative of new young council member, Beth Mayfield, RCS South Australia Branch is holding a series of Yoga & Art Therapy sessions. Advertised through social media, the first session was pronounced a success. Discounts are available to new branch members.


NZ Queens Birthday Cocktails 2 REsized2 June 2016 RCS Auckland Branch hosted a cocktail party celebration of The Queen’s 90th Birthday in style at the 145 year old  Northern Club, Auckland City in partnership with the British New Zealand Business Association, Monarchy New Zealand and the Northern Club. The guest speaker was Dr. Sean Palmer, Chair of Monarchy New Zealand who, with a PhD on the role of the monarchy in the 16 Commonwealth Realms, spoke about the contemporary importance of the monarchy for the New Zealand identity and the role it plays in the New Zealand system of democratic government.  The event was greatly enjoyed by guests and pronounced a resounding success.

 ACT AGM2016CROP resizeApril 2016 RCS ACT branch: There was a heightened emphasis on youth engagement when representatives from Australian RCS branches met over three days in Canberra, with support given to holding a Youth CHOGM in each state/territory in the run up to CHOGM 2018.  The principal purpose in coming together was to explore how branches might collaborate effectively in promoting RCS values and objectives. The presence of Helen Jones, Director of Youth Affairs and Education Programmes in London, and of Darryl Stevens, RCS Regional Co-ordinator from New Zealand, provided a significant stimulus to discussion and debate. The meeting’s Youth Day, co-chaired by Ellie Seckold and Darryl Stevens, was well attended and resulted in the establishment of an embryonic youth network of highly talented and motivated young people to network, mentor and advocate for modern Commonwealth values and programs.
Pictured: Young ANU scientist Stephen Fairweather speaking about his work in malarial research at the Youth Day

Canberra7 crop Commonwealth Day 2016: Members and guests of RCS Canberra were entertained at their multi-faith celebration held at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. The event was attended by the Governor-General, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd.), and Lady Cosgrove, as guests of the Executive Director. The Governor-General delivered Her Majesty The Queen’s Commonwealth Day Message.

Auckland13 March 2016: Auckland 300 people attended the Evensong Service to commemorate Commonwealth Day at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell. The Pipes and Drums of the St. Kentigern College Band provided the welcome and amongst the honoured guests were two Members of Parliament, representatives from several Commonwealth country consulates and a number of City Council members.

Music for the colourful service was provided by the Cathedral Choir under its Director of Music Michael Stoddart, the Band of the Royal New Zealand Navy commanded by Lt. Colin Clark RNZN and the Auckland Girls’ Choir conducted by the choir’s Musical Director, Leonie Lawson MNZM. Miss Kimera Chetty performed a Gujarati Folk Dance called ‘Nagada Sang Dhol’.

9 September 2015 - Celebrating HM The Queen becoming the longest reigning British monarch.  

Norfolk IslandQueensland Branch: held a small gathering of Imperial and Australian Honours recipients at Government House Norfolk Island, in full favour of Her Majesty.




Across the Pacific region, 9 Queens Young Leaders have been announced - see the list

CYNZ National Student CHOGM 2015August 2015: National Student CHOGM, New Zealand. Students from around the country converged on Parliament to take part in the National Student CHOGM, organised by Commonwealth Youth New Zealand (CYNZ). This year saw the highest number of attendees, many students from schools that had not participated previously.  The calibre of students attending was extremely high, and CYNZ was impressed to see students debating topical subjects.

26 May 2015: The RCS was saddened to receive the news that Dame Dorothy Fraser DBE, QSO JP,  President of the Otago Branch, had died aged 89.

RCS Director, Michael Lake said: 'Dorothy Fraser was a highly respected and inspirational lady who epitomised the values of the Commonwealth. Our sincere and warm condolences go out to the family.'

New Zealand Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little, said: 'Dame Dorothy was a well-known community figure who gave so much back to the Dunedin South community. She spent 29 years on the Otago Hospital Board, was a Dunedin City Councillor, an Otago University councillor, Otago High School board of governors member, and chairwoman of Montecillo Trust Board.

'The widow of former Labour Cabinet Minister Bill Fraser, Dame Dorothy was a force to be reckoned with. Her egalitarian principles attracted her to the Labour Party and she became the youngest member ever at the age of 14. She said at the time that she joined because she had: ‘little faith in the party if it was ruled by fuddy-duddies, so I rounded up 10 other young members and we formed our own junior branch’.

'Her lifetime achievements were immense – she was an innovator at a time when women found it difficult to have roles outside the domestic sphere.'


8 March 2015: Commonwealth & International Women’s Day: South Australia. Council Members and guests were invited to the State Museum to celebrate this special day. Three keynote speakers shared their stories and experiences of Commonwealth connections and culture, whilst offering their unique perspectives of women’s position and empowerment in society.


VictoriaCROP 9 April 2015: RCS Victoria Branch held a Dinner Meeting to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary. The speaker was the Hon. Ted Baillieu, former Premier of Victoria and Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee Chair, who said:  “This is an opportunity for modern Australia to honour the sacrifices of our war heroes and make a connection between themselves and our Anzac veterans,” he also said that the ANZAC Committee wanted to help all Victorians understand the role of the state in World War I and how communities contributed throughout the war effort. The added that the Anzac Centenary website had been developed to help people understand how they could get involved in the commemoration. Visit the website.


Common AgeApplications close on 17 April for scholarship applications to this 2015 International Conference which takes place in Perth, Australia from 31 August - 4 September. Download the flyer.

South Australia RESIZEDCommonwealth Day 2015: South Australia. Celebrations took place in Adelaide on 8 March, at the South Australian Museum. Opened by the Governor of South Australia, there were talks, tours and entertainment to mark the day. The talks were given by three Commonwealth women, simultaneously acknowledging International Women's Day.



NZ2 Commonwealth Day 2015, New Zealand: Tabby Besley, one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners, at the reception following the NZ Commonwealth National observance. Read the full report of Commonwealth Day celebrations in Wellington.



Essay Competition winners celebrated in Australia
On the 10th February RCS Victoria Branch held a cocktail reception for the local winners of the 2014 Essay Competition as well as an information evening for teachers and parents. The winner, Katherine Hocking, read aloud her essay entitled 'What part does competition play in people’s daily lives?'.  Victoria Branch President, Lloyd Byrne, congratulated Katherine on her achievement. 

DSC 7054Senior Award winners:

Katherine Hocking, Winner - Rochester Secondary
Bree Latta, Runner–up - Roxborough School

Junior Award winners:

Aimee’ Coquillat, Winner - Kilvington Grammar
Harrison Broughton, Runner-up - Kilvington Grammar

Pictured:Katherine Hocking with RCS Victoria Branch President, Lloyd Byrne

Common Youth Australia Founded
On 1 November a youth-led initiative that provides opportunities for youth engagement and a platform for discussion around Commonwealth principles was founded. 'CommonYouth' addresses the Commonwealth principles by consulting with young Australians and providing a platform for youth engagement and deliberation on many issues facing the world today.

With issues ranging from human rights to environmental sustainability, education and gender equality, CommonYouth endeavours to provide a program for the youth of Australia to work together in a variety of different media to help find a solution and answer to the most important issues
facing our global community today.

CYNZ Executive Director wins Youth Week Award
In a rececption at the New Zealand Parliament on the 20th May, Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye announced the recipients of the inaugural Youth Week Awards. Among the 24 young New Zealanders honoured was Commonwealth Youth New Zealand Executive Director, Aaron Hape.“Youth Week is a fantastic opportunity to recognise and celebrate the significant contribution and achievements of young people from across New Zealand,” Mr Hape said.

RCS Victoria meeting with Imogen Frawley
On the 8th May, RCS Victoria held a dinner and meeting at their headquarters in Melbourne. Guest of Honour was Miss Imogen Frawley – the recipient of a grant from RCS Victoria to assist her in her  gap year undertaking, where she will travel to Tanzania for 3 months to teach English, as well as doing construction and conservation work in the local communities. Read her remarks

Commonwealth Youth New Zealand- Constitution
RCS congratulates Commonwealth Youth New Zealand (CYNZ) on its formal constitution at its Inaugural General Meeting held at Parliament on 25th April. 

CYNZ logo

On 14 April a relaunch and Initial General Meeting was held at New Zealand's Parliament, supported by members of Royal Commonwealth Society branches, civil society organisations, Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, diplomats, and, most importantly, representatives of New Zealand's youth. We were also delighted to have been joined by The Right Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand, Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation and former Governor-General of New Zealand, Lady Susan Satyanand, and Her Excellency Vicki Treadell, British High Commissioner to New Zealand. 

Originally set up in 2010 by a small group of alumni from the New Zealand National Student CHOGM programme, the organisation's membership has since expanded to number hundreds of active members across the country. With this came the desire to shift the focus of the group to become more active in policy creation and youth participation in Commonwealth-related affairs.



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