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Currency: New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Exchange rate: NZD/GBP 0.48950 (Dec 11)
GDP: NZ $200.2b (Jun 11)
GDP per capita: NZ $45,212 (Jun 11)
Real GDP growth: 0.1% (Jun 11)
Inflation: 4.6% (Oct 11)
Official cash rate: 2.5% (Oct 11)
Unemployment: 6.6% (Nov 11)
Total exports: NZ $41.5b (Aug 10)
Total Imports: NZ $40.6b (Aug 10)
Major exports: Dairy, meat, wood, oil, machinery and equipment, fruit, seafood, aluminium, wine
Major imports: Machinery and equipment, vehicles and aircraft, petroleum, electronics, textiles, plastics

New Zealand’s economy is small, open and mixed. Historically benefitting from a preferential agricultural trade arrangement with the UK, successive governments sought to maintain New Zealand’s high standard of living through overseas borrowing and increasingly protective economic policies following the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community. New Zealand began to diversify its foreign markets and made a series of far-reaching structural reforms from the mid-1980s, which opened up the economy to competitive pressures and world prices. It went from being one of the most regulated economies in the OECD to being one of the least regulated.

New Zealand now has sizeable manufacturing and service sectors, complementing the highly efficient agricultural sector. The agricultural, horticultural, forestry, mining and fishing industries play a fundamentally important role in New Zealand’s economy, particularly in the export sector and in employment. Overall, the primary sector accounts for roughly 7% of GDP and contributes over 50% of New Zealand’s total export earnings. Dairy products alone account for 22% of exported merchandise.

Services account for around two-thirds of New Zealand’s GDP and manufacturing almost 20%. Tourism, which has been growing rapidly in recent years, is one of the country’s most important sources of foreign-exchange revenue, now accounting for 9% of GDP. The sectors of retail and wholesale trade, restaurants and hotels are major components, accounting for about 25% of the services sector.

New Zealand’s main trading partners are Australia (23.1%), China (11.2%), the United States (8.6%), Japan (7.8%), the United Kingdom (3.9%) and the Republic of Korea (3.4%). While New Zealand exports a greater quantity of goods to the United States, the value of exports to China is higher and is expected to increase further. Together, European Union members take 12% of exports (in value terms) and provide 16% of imports.

New Zealand’s economy experienced strong growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, although growth slowed during 1997 and 1998 in line with key Asian trading partners. New Zealand went into recession in early 2008 and the economy deteriorated sharply following the onset of the global financial crisis. Overall, the New Zealand economy contracted for five quarters and a cumulative 3.3%. Though New Zealand’s economy returned to growth from 2009, the rate of growth stalled in 2010-2011. NZ Treasury forecasts that the economy will grow at an average of 2.9% over the next three years.

Several large earthquakes that struck Canterbury in 2010-2011 disrupted economic activity but the rebuild will provide an internal driver of growth expected to offset the negative impact coming from abroad. Much of the rebuild cost is met from insurance claims, which means that progress is largely independent of the state of the world economy. As the rebuild and broader economic recovery gather pace, monetary and fiscal policy stimulus will be progressively withdrawn by government, with public operating deficits expected to be replaced by surpluses by 2015.

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New Zealand's indigenous population, the Māori, descend from Polynesian ancestors who are thought to have landed in Aotearoa/New Zealand during the 10th Century AD, the last major habitable land mass to be settled by mankind.

In1642 the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, sighted the land in the course of his search for Antarctica. He named the South Island "Nieuw Zeeland" after the Dutch province. James Cook sighted the North Island in 1769 and returned several times with various charting and scientific expeditions. His enthusiastic reports encouraged a wave of European settlers who came across from Australia, and whalers who came from the UK, the USA and France.

Māori tribes suffered from the introduction of new diseases and epidemics, muskets and alcohol, the breakdown of their traditional way of life and from new competition for land and resources. Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown on 6 February 1840, guaranteeing them exclusive undisturbed possession of their lands, forests and fisheries, and the rights and privileges of British subjects. Because there is no exact Māori equivalent of the concept of sovereignty, Māori and the Crown had different understandings of what was being conceded by Māori. The 1975 Treaty of Waitangi Act, which established the Waitangi Tribunal (set up to consider grievances caused by breaches of the Treaty), directs the Tribunal to have regard to both the English and Māori texts.

Immigration from Britain continued throughout the 19th Century, to the extent that Europeans outnumbered Māori by around 1858. The gold rushes of the 1860s and successive immigration programmes further encouraged this trend. From 1860–1872 a series of land wars were fought between Māori and the settler population. Often, new settlers did not appreciate that Māori owned their land communally and that permission to settle on land did not always imply sale of that land.

New Zealand troops made a significant contribution to the Boer War and to both World Wars. Particularly serious losses were sustained during landings on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. Memorial services are held each year on ANZAC day (25 April) to commemorate those who died both at Gallipoli and in other wars.

New Zealand became a Dominion in 1907 and gained full independence from Great Britain in 1947.

BBC News Country Timeline: New Zealand (

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In recent years, New Zealand’s foreign policy has focused on promoting free trade, multilateralism, peacekeeping, nuclear disarmament and arms control. New Zealand’s foreign policy also reflects New Zealand’s geographical positioning on the Asia-Pacific rim, with its development assistance heavily slanted towards its Pacific neighbours and APEC partners. New Zealand has played leading roles in regional peacekeeping operations, including in East Timor and the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). It has also contributed troops to Afghanistan and to reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

New Zealand has developed a significant network of free trade agreements, including with Australia, ASEAN, Brunei, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It is currently negotiating agreements with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Korea, India and Russia, and with the United States via the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

New Zealand has jurisdiction over Tokelau and the Ross Dependency and is in free association with the Cook Islands and Niue. All Cook Islanders and Niueans are also New Zealand citizens.

New Zealand's membership of international organisations

ANZUS (US suspended security obligations to NZ on 11 August 1986), ASEM, APEC, ADB, ASEAN (dialogue partner), ATS, Australia Group, Commonwealth, CP, CCC, EAS, EBRD, ESCAP, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICC, ICCt, INTERPOL, IDA, IFC, IFAD, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, INMARSAT, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ICRM, INTELSAT, ITU, IWC, NAC, NAM (guest), NSG, OECD, OPCW, PIF, PCA, SPC, SPARTECA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMISET,UNTSO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WHC, WIPO, WMO, WTO.

New Zealand - UK relationship

Relations between the UK and New Zealand are very close, built on a strong foundation of a shared history, cultural values and people-to-people links. Around 80% of New Zealanders can claim some British ancestry and over 200,000 are British passport holders. Britain remains a favoured destination for young New Zealanders for their "Overseas Experience" working holidays, but the strong growth in the UK expatriate community in New Zealand has tipped the balance of migration between the two countries. There are currently almost twice as many UK citizens making a permanent or long-term home in New Zealand (18,700 in the year to December 2008) than New Zealanders departing for the UK long-term (10,800 in the same period).

The UK – New Zealand relationship holds new relevance through partnerships in science and innovation, business opportunities including access to growing Asian markets via trade triangulation, defence cooperation, intelligence sharing and a valuable domestic policy dialogue.

There are frequent senior Ministerial visits in both directions.

UK visitors to NZ:
-- Jan 2011: Foreign Secretary William Hague, Defence Secretary Liam Fox
-- Jul 2011: Attorney General Dominic Grieve, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith
-- Sep 2011: Minister of State Jeremy Browne, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones

NZ visitors to UK:
-- Jan 11: Minister of Education Anne Tolley
-- Apr 11: Prime Minister John Key and Mrs Bronagh Key, Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand and Lady Satyanand
-- May 11: Minister of Housing and Minister of Aquaculture & Fisheries Phil Heatley, Minister of Health Tony Ryall, Governor-General Designate General Jerry Mateparae and Mrs Mateparae
-- Jun 11: Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Forestry David Carter
-- Sep 11: Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Trade and Minister Responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations Tim Groser

The UK and New Zealand military forces work closely together and frequently train together. There is a developing programme of tri-service exchange appointments and attachments. There is also close consultation with DSO (UKTI) and UK military units regarding the NZDF acquisition programme.

The UK has a High Commission in Wellington, a Consulate General (which deals mostly with trade and investment promotion) in Auckland and an Honorary Consul in Christchurch. The High Commissioner in Wellington is Vicki Treadell. The New Zealand High Commissioner in London is Derek Leask.

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Country Profile

Area: 268,680 sq km (103,737 sq miles)
Population: 4.43 million (December 2011 est.)
Capital city: Wellington
People: European (67.6%), Māori (14.6%), Asian (9.2%), Pacific Islander (6.9%)
Languages: English, Māori, New Zealand Sign Language
Religions: Christianity (55.6%), no religion (34.7%), other (4%)
Located in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, New Zealand consists of two main islands (the North Island and South Island), Stewart Island and a number of smaller islands, including the Auckland, Chatham and Pitt Islands. Its nearest neighbours are Australia, 1,600 km to the north-west, and New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga to the North. Its climate is temperate and changeable. Because of its isolated geographical location, New Zealand is home to many unique species of flora and fauna, including flightless birds such as the Kiwi. New Zealand is 18,000 km from the UK and 12 hours ahead of GMT.

New Zealand is a developed country that ranks high on factors such as human development, quality of life, life expectancy, literacy, public education, peace, prosperity, economic freedom, ease of doing business and lack of corruption.

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Value of UK exports to New Zealand: NZ $958 million (year ended Jun 10)
Value of UK imports from New Zealand: NZ $1.54b (year ended Aug 10)
The UK is New Zealand's fifth largest trading partner in two-way trade and New Zealand is one of the UK's top fifty export markets. Most UK exported goods are from the automotive, pharmaceutical and power generating equipment sectors, while the top imports from New Zealand are lamb, wine and fruit (mainly apples and kiwifruit). New Zealand export figures to the UK do not include butter that is shipped in bulk to Belgium for repackaging into consumer packs for the UK market. For the year ended June 2008 these were worth over £200 million.

The UK is the second largest investor in New Zealand (after Australia), investing NZ $3.6b in the year to March 2010. Vodafone is the largest cellular network operator and HSBC is a significant niche player in the banking sector. The UK is also a key player in the insurance sector.

More than 80% of total NZ investment in Europe is in the UK. In the year to March 2010, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) assisted 24 companies from New Zealand to set up in the UK, the majority in knowledge-based sectors.

UKTI works closely with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and in October 2011 they signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to help companies internationalise in each market and to work together in foreign markets such as Asia.

UKTI's Research and Development Partnerships Programme develops technology-based partnerships between UK and New Zealand organisations to help both entities grow and become more profitable. New Zealand’s Ministry of Research, Science and Technology notes that around 30% of NZ-based researchers claim a UK partner of some description, and over 150 Memoranda of Understanding exist.

The NZTE Beachhead Programme also assists NZ companies to establish a presence in the UK. The UK is an attractive market for NZ companies looking to grow overseas, especially as a base for European headquarters.

The British Consulate-General in Auckland is the main contact for trade and investment enquiries:

UK Trade & Investment
British Consulate-General
Level 17, 151 Queen Street, Auckland, New Zealand
Private Bag 92014, Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 9 303 2973
Fax: +64 9 303 1836
Email: ( (for trade enquiries only - no visa or passport)
Web: (
Twitter: (

British Council in New Zealand

By creating international opportunities for people in the UK and around the world, the British Council helps meet aspirations for a better life. By creating trust, the British Council helps people from the UK and other countries better understand each other and work together to address global challenges. By creating more opportunity and trust, stronger long term relationships are developed for the UK to share and enrich its assets in English, the arts, education and society.

In New Zealand, the British Council achieves this by presenting British art to the NZ public so arts institutions and managers recognise the UK as a leader in new forms of showcasing such as cross-genre works. It seeks to influence the NZ art scene with ethnic diversity in the development of great art and it is working toward wider engagement and understanding about the contribution that ethnic diversity has made to innovation, identity and creativity in UK arts and to the UK creative economy. The British Council also aims to improve understanding of the UK as creative, innovative and relevant. Its programmes achieve this by presenting new works to new audiences – particularly works which showcase the regional and ethnic diversity of Britain.

A second element of the British Council strategy is to support artistic collaborations between UK practitioners and local and regional artists by encouraging local practitioners to look to the UK for innovation in the presentation of public art, interactivity and design. The British Council seeks to have local practice influenced by the UK – particularly by arts experts from the British ethnic communities – and to position the UK as an innovator in the interactivity between artist and audience/viewer through the new collaborative works it supports.

The third tier of its cultural relations strategy in NZ is around cultural policy and leaders – i.e. having cultural leaders develop skills, professional networks and policy for the arts and creative industries. By influencing emerging leaders, the British Council hopes to create wider public understanding about diversity and social inclusion so that stronger networks and a deeper understanding of UK will inevitably result in new relationships between NZ and UK organisations and institutions and an improved contribution to solving global challenges through the arts.

For a nine-minute video presentation of the British Council’s work in NZ, please go to (

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Government: Unicameral House of Representatives (commonly called Parliament)
Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General Lt Gen Sir Jerry Mateparae GNZM QSO (since August 2011)
Prime Minister: John Key (since November 2008)
Foreign Minister: Murray McCully
Major political parties: ACT New Zealand, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, Mana, Māori Party, New Zealand First Party, New Zealand National Party, New Zealand Labour Party, United Future New Zealand.

The last general election was held in November 2011. A Government was formed by the centre-right, National Party (59 seats), with the right-wing economic liberal ACT Party (one seat) and the centrist United Future Party (one seat) offering confidence and supply votes in exchange for Ministerial positions outside Cabinet. The Māori Party (three seats) has an agreement to co-operate with the Government on areas of mutual interest and not to oppose it on confidence and supply.

The centre-left Labour Party (34 seats), which was in Government from 1999 to 2008, leads the Opposition. The other Opposition parties are the Green Party (14 seats), New Zealand First (eight seats) and Mana (one seat).

New Zealand’s Parliament is unicameral (it has just one chamber – the House of Representatives). Elections are held every three years under a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representational voting system. Each elector has two votes, one for a local MP and one for a political party. Political parties are represented in proportion to the share of votes they win in the General Election. Following the 2011 Election there are 70 electoral members of parliament and 51 list members, a total of 121.

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Last Updated: December 2011

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