New Zealand High Commission Ottawa, Canada

Canada and New Zealand: Connections, Comparisons and Challenges

Tuesday, 9 February, 2010
Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

Opening Remarks by Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs

High Commissioner, Justice Williams, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning and thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.  It’s a pleasure to be able to support this conference.

Thank you to High Commissioner Chretien and her team at the Canadian High Commission as well as Pat Walsh and David Capie and others from Victoria University for their initiative in hosting this conference.

I’d especially like to thank those who have travelled here from Canada.  The Air New Zealand flight between Auckland and Vancouver is a valuable direct link between our two countries – one I have been fortunate to use myself a number of times.

New Zealand’s relationship with Canada is of fundamental importance.  

Canada is a mature and valuable market for New Zealand exporters.  The statistics show two-way trade in goods worth a billion dollars a year. Adding services trade, such as the 50,000 Canadian tourists who visit NZ each year, and investment, the real value of Canada to the New Zealand economy is much greater.

Business links are supported by our respective high-commissions and national trade offices in Vancouver and Auckland.  Sharing a common language and culture makes it much easier for our business people to operate in each others’ market.  Canada-New Zealand business organisations in both countries help us capitalise in diverse areas from agriculture through to film production. 

These business networks also help support the growing links in research, innovation and technology development. 

At the government level, we work together in organisations such as the WTO aimed at enhancing trade through the removal of barriers and promoting competition. 

But there is much more to the New Zealand and Canada relationship than trade statistics and business dealings. 

Our relationship is based on a shared set of fundamental values. Our Commonwealth heritage and our history of standing together in times of conflict and strife mean that we look at issues from a very similar vantage point.  We share a commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and a belief in being good international citizens.

New Zealand and Canada have made significant contributions to peace and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan - a testimony to our joint commitment to supporting international security going back over a century. 

In the United Nations, together with Australia, Canada and New Zealand combine our efforts in the CANZ grouping in order to a achieve a greater impact on issues of mutual interest. 

It is worth remembering that Canada is also a fellow Pacific nation.  We therefore work closely with Canada in advancing our shared interests in regional groupings such as APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

This closeness in the international arena is underpinned by the strength of our bilateral relationship.  A mark of the extent of our engagement was that in one working day in Ottawa last year I met with five Ministers - and I could have done more if there had been time. 

The future of the New Zealand/Canada relationship is also in good shape.  We have a very successful bilateral working holiday scheme. This gives young people from both countries the opportunity to spend a year exploring Canada or New Zealand.  Next month we are extending the age limit for the scheme to include people up to the age of 35.  Student exchanges and academic linkages provide more valuable opportunities for our future leaders to build links.

As the responsible Minister I should also make reference to the shared passion of New Zealanders and Canadian for sport and the outdoors.  I will be closely following the performance of the New Zealand team when the world’s eyes turn to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next week with and the Paralympics in March.  As Minister for the Rugby World Cup I am of course also looking forward to seeing the Canada in action at next year’s Rugby World Cup, including against the All Blacks here in Wellington. 

In regard to your deliberations today, the challenge I see is the need to keep up the momentum in what is already a rich and dynamic relationship.  Even relationships as close as that between New Zealand and Canada do not run themselves.  They need affirmative action.  The challenge for us is not to take each other for granted, and to lift our game to even greater levels. 

That means to continue to build on existing economic linkages, maintain the close political dialogue, and be alive to new opportunities for partnership and taking the relationship to a new level. 

Conferences such as this are a great opportunity to think critically about where we can do more.

I wish you well in your discussions and look forward to learning of your findings.

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