U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown shows off his collection of rock 'n' roll memorabilia. (Kim Tunnicliffe/WBZ NewsRadio)
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (WBZ NewsRadio) — Scott Brown has gone from a small-town State Senator to U.S. Senator to U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand. On a recent trip to the country, WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe checked in with Brown at his official residence in Wellington.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little bit surreal," Brown said.
Brown now has 180 employees and works on typical ambassador issues like passports and arrests and deaths of United States citizens on New Zealand soil.
But New Zealand is also part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing network along with the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada, meaning Brown's role also involves dealing with sensitive and classified issues pertaining to China and Russia.
"The growing concerns of China and what they're doing in the region, while they're not an enemy, they're certainly not playing by the rules, so it's up to me and my team to point out factually what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong, and we've had great success in that regard," Brown said.
Trade between the U.S. and New Zealand, whose residents are known as Kiwis, is very important to Ambassador Brown.
"We just passed the Kiwi Act, an investment-trader visa," Brown said. "Any Kiwi or U.S. person who wants to do business or invest in the United States, they don't have to get a visa every time they want to go back and forth. It's actually a five-year visa now, and it creates amazing cost-savings and time-savings for those businesses, and potentially can unleash investment in both of our countries."
Brown knows his boss, President Donald Trump, isn't just a divisive figure in the United States, but in foreign countries as well. To get around that, Brown has been using music as a unifying force when hosting ambassadors from other countries.
He's turned part of the official ambassador's residence into a rock 'n' roll hall of fame of sorts, with signed albums, drumsticks, and instruments all over the walls.
"They see Gracie, our little dog, jumping all over them," Brown said. "Then they come in and they can play my guitars, or they can jump behind the KISS drum kit, get pictures, and by the time we're ready to sit down and talk business, they're like, 'Wow, this guy's pretty cool, I'm gonna keep an open mind.' It really, really helped break down any superficial barriers or preconceived notions that people have about me or the administration."
Brown said he's not considering running for political office at this point, as he feels the political climate has changed in the past few years.
"Certainly, if the President gets re-elected and asks me to stay on in a different capacity, it's certainly something I'd consider," Brown said. "This has been the best job I've ever had."
Listen to the full interview with Ambassador Brown below.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports