New Zealand Embassy Paris, France
South Pacific & Antarctica
France is a key partner for New Zealand in the South Pacific, a region in which both countries hold an important stake in promoting peace, stability and prosperity. New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France, is New Zealand's nearest regional neighbour.
The days of French nuclear testing in the Pacific are now a distant memory: France’s signature of the South Pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone protocols in 1996 paved the way for a new era of friendly cooperation in the region. New Zealand values France’s constructive role in advancing and protecting the livelihoods of Pacific peoples.
The FRANZ arrangement between France, New Zealand and Australia provides for the timely and effective provision of disaster relief to Pacific Island countries. There is also a significant degree of cooperation in the Pacific between French and New Zealand defence forces, including the pooling of resources for the provision of regional maritime surveillance. In May 2014, New Zealand signed a Status of Forces Agreement with France to further facilitate defence cooperation, particularly in the Pacific. New Zealand also increased customs cooperation with France with a focus on joint information-sharing to track and combat transnational crime in the Pacific. And France and New Zealand cooperate within regional organisations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (formerly the Pacific Island Commission) and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to provide development assistance to the region.
Aside from its relationship with metropolitan France, New Zealand also enjoys friendly relations with New Caledonia and French Polynesia as Pacific regional actors in their own right. High-level political contact between New Zealand, New Caledonia and French Polynesia has expanded in recent years and there have been frequent visits and exchanges in the areas of trade, defence, social dialogue, education, tourism, culture and sports.
New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna are working, in cooperation with France, to become more integrated into the Pacific region. This has led to greater cooperation with New Zealand on regional issues. Both New Caledonia and French Polynesia are currently associate members of the Pacific Islands Forum (since 2006) and Wallis and Futuna holds observer status. They are also members of several regional institutions such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), which is based in New Caledonia.
As original signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, Antarctic Claimant States, and Southern Ocean coastal states, France and New Zealand share many common interests and perspectives on Antarctic matters. Over the years New Zealand has developed a good working relationship with the French on these issues, highlighted by the 1994 bilateral Agreement on Antarctic Cooperation. The Agreement, which focuses on scientific collaboration, has facilitated French contributions to projects initiated by the Christchurch-based International Centre for Antarctic Information and Research (ICAIR). These have included Antarctic Treaty-related issues such as the development of an Antarctic Tourism database and the establishment of an Antarctic Master Directory.
Cooperation with France on Antarctic issues has now extended to the problem of illegal and unregulated toothfish fishing in the Southern Ocean. The French Indian Ocean islands of Kerguelen and Le Crozet have been particularly hard hit by illegal fishing. France and New Zealand, along with other interested parties, have agreed to exchange compliance information and to work to curb this growing threat to the sustainable management of fisheries in the Southern Ocean.