“I truly believe that culture is a very powerful instrument of diplomacy. It’s invisible, yet it goes to the deepest of hearts.”
Tantowi Yahya, the Indonesian Ambassador for New Zealand, was the brain behind a music concert called “The Symphony of Friendship”. The concert was a collaboration between Indonesian artists, especially from Papua, and it was held at The Opera House, Wellington, Friday (9/11).
The concert was carefully, and elaborately planned. Since March 2017, Tantowi was given the mandate from Indonesian President Joko Widodo to strengthen diplomatic position of Indonesia among Pacific nations. He was appointed the ambassador of Indonesia for New Zealand. Joko Widodo believed that Indonesia needs to be known not only as an Asian country but also a Pacific one.
“There is one glaring fact which we forgot to capitalize all this time: that geographically, we are a pacific country. Papua, Maluku and East Nusa Tenggara, all located in the Pacific. So the claim that we are a Pacific country is valid, but we never played that ‘card’”, said Tantowi, who is an avid musician and television presenter himself.
Tantowi explained that when the Ambonese songs were played, people could not distinguish it from Maori and Solomon songs, because of their similarities. The Symphony of Friendship was attended by 1,000 audience, commemorating 60th anniversary of Indonesia – New Zealand diplomatic relations. He believes that music is a universal language that people around the world can absorb.
Papua was also nicknamed the terrace of Indonesia. Responding to the doubts cast by the world, the Indonesian government has been accelerating the pace of infrastructure development in Papua and West Papua.
On the same occasion, the leader of parliament Bambang Soesatyo officially opened the Papua Room in Indonesian Embassy for New Zealand. Also attending the ceremony were parliament members Akbar Faisal, Misbakhun, Masinton, and Expert Staff of the parliament Yorys Raweyai.
Soesatyo explained that the Graha Gorontalo and Papua Room are going to be the icon of Indonesian Embassy in New Zealand, as the first thing that welcomes the guests will be the Papua Room itself. There is also a gallery of Indonesian presidents since the independence to this day. Two rooms under construction will be named after two major kingdom preceding Indonesia: Mataram and Sriwijaya.
Under the current administration, Papua has improved its economy by the means of fossil fuel distribution, roads construction, healthcare system, education facilities and electricity proliferation.