The early days of the Consulate of Finland in Sydney date back to 1917 - the year Finland declared its independence from the crumbling Russian Empire. It was then that J.O. Boijer, in charge of the Finnish Seamen's Mission in Sydney, began to look after the interests of Finns in Australia as an unofficial Consul. Boijer continued as such until early 1919 when he passed his duties to his friend, businessman Kaarlo J. Nauklér. Nauklér was officially appointed Consul by the Finnish Government on 24 October 1919. His jurisdiction also included New Zealand, New Guinea and Oceania in general.
Besides working hard in his day job Nauklér was a sporting enthusiast winning Australian championships in both javelin and discus throwing in 1919 and 1921 respectively, earning the nickname "The Champion Consul" from his consular colleagues. After Naucklér died unexpectedly in 1921 another businessman, Harold Tanner was appointed Consul in his stead. Tanner continued as Consul until 1935 when he returned to Finland.
In December 1941 Great Britain, then responsible for Australia's foreign relations, broke off diplomatic relations and declared war on Finland under pressure from its ally the Soviet Union which Finland was fighting at the time in order to regain the territories it lost as a result of Soviet aggression in 1939-40 (the so-called Winter War). Paavo Simelius, who had been appointed Consul after Tanner, had to return posthaste to Finland as a consequence. Despite the fact that a state of war existed between Finland and Great Britain/Australia for a number of years, no shots were ever fired, and amicable relations were restored following the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947. The Finnish Consulate in Sydney was reopened in 1949, and Simelius was the natural choice to resume his old job, this time as Chargé d'affaires.
In 1958, during Toivo I. Kala's term as Chargé d'affaires, Finland and Australia concluded a visa exemption agreement in order to facilitate movement between our two countries, first to ease immigration to Australia for many job-seeking Finns, and later tourism. Five years later, his successor Olavi Wanne began to lobby the Finnish Government to transfer Finnish diplomatic representation from Sydney to the capital, Canberra.
Finland's diplomatic representation was moved to Canberra in 1966 and upgraded to an Embassy in 1969, with Tuure Mentula as Finland's first-ever Ambassador to Australia. The Consulate in Sydney continued in existence, handling consular work and trade contacts until 2012 when all the consular service functions, whether visas, residence permits, passports or citizenship and notary services, were transferred to the Embassy in Canberra.
In 1968, Australia leased a building site for a new Finnish Embassy in Yarralumla, Canberra. It took a decade for the Embassy to move to the new site, to a new building that housed both the Embassy and the Ambassador's residence. Two decades on, the building had become crowded, and a new Embassy building was clearly required.
Finnish Ambassadors to Australia
|Tuure Mentula||1969 - 1975|
|Åke Backström||1975 - 1980|
|Veikko Huttunen||1980 - 1983|
|Osmo Lares||1983 - 1987|
|Ulf-Erik Slotte||1987 - 1991|
|Charles Murto||1991 - 1996|
|Esko Hamilo||1996 - 2001|
|Anneli Puura-Märkälä||2001 - 2005|
|Glen Lindholm||2005 - 2009|
|Maija Lähteenmäki|| |
2010 - 2012
|Pasi Patokallio||2013 - 2016|
|Lars Backström||2016 - Present|