New Zealand Embassy Paris, France

New Zealand and France

NZ Governor General, Lt Gen Sir Jerry Matepaere and NZ veterans in Normandy, June 2014

New Zealand has had a long tradition of contact with France in the creative arts, music, dance, and on the sports field, leading to the conclusion in 1977 of a bilateral Cultural Agreement. Many scientific, educational, sporting, and cultural exchanges now take place with France and France’s Pacific territories each year. French continues to be one of the most widely taught foreign languages in New Zealand, and linguistic and cultural links attract large numbers of New Zealanders to France, New Caledonia, and French Polynesia.

New Zealand and France enjoy a warm and varied bilateral relationship. From the strong personal links forged in the First and Second World Wars when New Zealand and French soldiers fought and died for a common cause, to close contact with New Caledonia and French Polynesia and through our defence forces in the South Pacific, our two countries have a long history of cooperation. Today, this encompasses a range of activities including disaster relief and maritime surveillance in the Pacific; cooperation on the Antarctic, the United Nations and other multilateral issues; international peacekeeping duties and defence exercises; and joint ventures in the scientific, cultural and commercial sectors. France is an important partner for New Zealand both as a key player in the European Union and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Many New Zealanders visit metropolitan France and its Pacific territories on a regular basis. The number of French visitors to New Zealand also continues to rise every year. This increasing two-way flow of people and the valuable contacts that it generates add further depth and vibrancy to the relationship. In particular, this has been facilitated by the France/New Zealand Working Holiday Scheme, which has seen over 20,000 young French people experience living and working in New Zealand since the scheme's inauguration in 1999, and the ongoing work of the France/New Zealand Friendship Fund, established to promote friendly relations between the two countries.

As a testament to the strength of relations between New Zealand and France, Prime Minister John Key made an official visit to Paris in September 2013, where he met with the French President François Hollande, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Minister of Finance and Economy, Pierre Moscovici. This was Prime Minister Key's second official visit, following that of April 2011.

French Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Kader Arif, visited New Zealand in November 2013 and met wth the Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Christopher Finlayson. Together they signed a Letter of Intent on cooperation around WW1 centenary commemorations. In 2014, Minister Finlayson returned to France to attend the annual Bastille Day parade which this year honoured those countries, including New Zealand, that participated in the First World War. Earlier in 2014, the Governor General, Lt Gen Sir Jerry Matepaere, joined a delegation of New Zealand veterans of the Second World War to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings in Normandy.

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