New Zealand High Commission London, United Kingdom

New Zealand and the United Kingdom

The history of New Zealand’s relationship with the UK mirrors closely the history of the growth of New Zealand as a modern nation.

Today New Zealand has a distinctive identity, forged from the twin strands of our indigenous Maori culture and our British heritage, but also incorporating many influences from our wider region. We enjoy our uniqueness and the confidence it gives us as we conduct our business throughout the world.

As a small nation with limited resources, we are dependent on trade to survive and as a people we seek to build personal networks as well as business ones wherever we go.

The relationship between New Zealand and the UK has, since the earliest years, been based on complex trading and financial links, warm relations and a detailed understanding of each other and the way we do business. Our close ties have endured through times of prosperity and of hardship. We share many perceptions of the world at large. Our soldiers have fought side by side in two World Wars, and have worked together as peacekeepers around the globe.

The UK remains an ever popular destination for young New Zealanders seeking the traditional overseas experience and New Zealand’s unique geographical, social and cultural aspects continue to be a strong drawcard for UK tourists and migrants alike. The UK is the third largest source of tourists to New Zealand. Commerce between us is facilitated by our shared language and history, our common legal and cultural backgrounds, making working together easy and congenial.

While we have for many years sold our products widely in the expanding markets of the Asia Pacific region, and especially in Australia, we still greatly value our substantial trade with the UK, and beyond the UK, with Europe. The UK remains a traditional and major overseas investor in New Zealand, and the source of many of our imports.

However, the relationship has changed and evolved over the decades. New Zealand’s pattern of international trade changed significantly once the UK joined the EU. Prior to that it was the destination for over half of all our exports. Today, New Zealand’s trade and other links have spread and diversified enormously.

That diversification has brought with it a stronger sense of national independence in New Zealand. But at the same time, the basis of co-operation between New Zealand and the UK has remained firm and our trading relationship continues to evolve. The growth in New Zealand’s manufactured exports to the UK builds on a strong history of primary, agricultural products. New Zealand’s top four exports to the UK are sheepmeat, butter, wool and apples, but industries such as wine making and information technology are also represented in the top ten. Strong progress is also expected in niche industries such as processed foods, fruits and vegetables, natural and organic foods, beauty products and medicines, biotechnology, consultancy services, giftwear and apparel, marine accessories and boat building and innovative agritech, engineering and building products.

As the UK operates at the heart of Europe, our long standing relationship provides us with some special perspectives and contacts beyond the UK itself. As the UK’s participation in the EU continues to evolve, so our relationship with both Britain and other European countries also changes and develops. Many New Zealand exporters are now finding that the established relationship they have within the UK offers a new springboard into the lucrative European market. A strong awareness of environmental issues and organic foods in UK and Europe also bodes well in New Zealand for the development of these industries, given our clean and green reputation and our focus on environmental issues.

Beyond trade, the relationship between the New Zealand and the UK has always been, and continues to be, very warm at the personal level. Many New Zealanders contribute directly to UK society - in the city, in IT, in the universities, in farming and in the professions, and also on the more traditional working holiday. Young Britons also travel in the other direction to experience life in New Zealand. Family ties remain strong and are renewed with each succeeding generation. Sporting links continue to excite great interest in both countries. The mutually reinforcing connections of personal bonds and real commercial benefits guarantee that even as our two countries individually evolve, the traditional friendship between us will remain as enduring and valued as ever.

For more information on the bilateral relationship, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


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