There has been talk on Twitter lately of the demographic makeup of the foreign diplomatic corps stationed in Wellington. Luckily the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) keep a handy Diplomatic and Consular List of the foreign representatives to New Zealand by country of origin, which also includes the country where they are stationed and other information. By having a quick browse through the list it is simple enough to make a table of Wellington-based foreign diplomats. It is also easy to narrow the list down to, for example, only Commonwealth countries. There are 14 high commissions in Wellington with Wellington-based staff: Australia, British, Canada, Cook Islands, Fiji, India, Malaysia, Niue, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, and South Africa.
The list does omit a lot of information we would like, but we can reconstruct some of it. For example, while the Diplomatic and Consular List does not include gender, it does include a salutation for most diplomats. If we assume those with the salutations “Mr” or “His Excellency” are men, and those with the salutations “Mrs” or “Ms” or “Her Excellency” are women, then we can draw up a graph showing the gender of diplomats of Commonwealth countries stationed in Wellington. The “unknown” category indicates those with salutations for which gender is not obvious (“Captain”, “Major”, “Dr”, etc.) We don’t take names in to consideration in order to avoid any bias according to how popular names from other countries may be in New Zealand.
37 of 70 Commonwealth representatives to New Zealand stationed in Wellington are men, 26 are women, and 7 are “unknown”. As an aside, 8 of 13 Commonwealth Heads of Mission stationed are women.
We can also look at whether or not they have travelled to New Zealand with a partner who is registered with MFAT, and the gender of their partner (partners’ genders are determined from salutation as above).
As you can see, representatives of Commonwealth countries stationed in Wellington have mostly travelled with an opposite-gender partner. There are no same-sex couples, and 16 of 70 representatives have no registered partner. The “unknown” couples are mostly those where the representative is a Defence Attache, and so we can’t tell their gender from their salutation. As a practical matter many countries, including many Commonwealth countries, are reluctant to issue diplomatic passports to same-sex partners.
If we assume that the orientation of the small number of “unknown” couples is the same as that for known couples then we can additionally determine the gender of diplomatic representatives from their spouses gender. Doing so, the number of male representatives by country now looks as follows:
We can also get quite a lot of information about age distribution from the diplomatic ranks; third secretaries tend to be younger, with first secretaries, counsellors, deputy heads of mission, and heads of mission tending to be more experienced and older. There are also some more specific job titles, such as “Consul-General”, “Defence Advisor”, etc. These tend to be older and more experienced than first secretaries, but younger than typical deputy heads of mission.
The distribution of diplomatic ranks is as follows:
If you are interested in the distribution by age you can do a reasonable job by defining “young” diplomats as those with the ranks of third secretary and second secretary, junior attaches, and administration and technical staff. There is a bit of guesstimation here about the relationship between job titles and age, but the important point is that we are using the same definition for all countries so that whatever we are measuring, the numbers should at least be reasonably well-defined and comparable. The graph of numbers of young male diplomats by country is as follows:
Also of interest is turnover. Many foreign diplomatic missions will rotate staff through Wellington in two- to four-year stints, but there is a lot of variation, particularly at the Head of Mission-level. HE Mr William Dihm, High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea has been in Wellington since August 2009, whereas heads of mission from some other countries would be lucky to last two years. By comparing the list of diplomatic staff to previous versions you could get a list of which diplomats have been recalled from Wellington in the last few of months, including name, diplomatic rank, gender, partner status, sexual orientation, and approximate age. For example, if you could get your hands on a copy of the Diplomatic and Consular List from 09:45:16am on October 11, 2013, then you would be able to quickly get a list of all changes in staff at each diplomatic mission in the last 262 days. Checking back further still would give you a very good indication of the length of their posting, so you could also look for unusually short stays in Wellington. But let’s leave that analysis for another day.