Last updated in October 2016
On 10 November 2013, Germany and New Zealand celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Over a period of six decades, a relationship of mutual trust has developed, not least owing to the two countries’ very often taking similar positions on international issues. A regular dialogue has been established between the two countries at various levels. Federal Chancellor Merkel visited New Zealand from 13 to 14 November 2014, before attending the G20 summit in Australia. Prime Minister John Key and Federal Chancellor Merkel met again in Berlin on 1 December 2015 and future meetings are planned. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully held talks with Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier in Berlin in March 2014. New Zealand Parliament Speaker David Carter travelled to Munich and Berlin in April 2015. German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert paid a return visit to New Zealand in October 2016.
Bilateral trade relations between New Zealand and Germany are unproblematic. A double taxation agreement that was signed in 1978 has been in force since 1980. For more than 30 years, the New Zealand German Business Association (NZGBA) in Auckland has served as a local German foreign chamber of commerce. On request, it brokers contacts with New Zealand business partners and conducts market analyses. New Zealand’s business community is represented in Germany by New Zealand’s Hamburg-based governmental organisation New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
In 2015, Germany ranked 15th among buyers of New Zealand’s exports and sixth among suppliers of the country’s imports. New Zealand’s principal exports to Germany are agricultural and forestry products, in particular mutton and game, fruit, dairy products and wool. Its main imports from Germany are motor vehicles, machinery and pharmaceutical products. In 2015, New Zealand ranked 65th among buyers of German exports and 66th among suppliers of German imports. Germany records a balance of trade surplus with New Zealand. According to Federal Statistical Office (DESTATIS) figures, in 2015 bilateral trade was worth EUR 1.67 billion, German exports to New Zealand totalling EUR 1.07 billion and imports from there EUR 590 million.
German tourists are an important element in New Zealand’s economy. According to Statistics New Zealand, 91,632 Germans visited New Zealand (out of a total of 3,358,580 visitors) from August 2015 to August 2016 (people entering the country on a visa valid for a maximum of 12 months), putting Germany in sixth place among countries of origin for this period.
Germany is one of New Zealand’s principal cooperation partners in science and technology, along with the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Since the agreement on scientific and technological cooperation was concluded in December 1977, scientists from both countries have been cooperating in numerous joint research projects. 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the agreement on scientific cooperation. At bilateral consultations on science in late 2014, the following priority areas were defined for cooperation in the period 2015 to 2018: health, food/agriculture, biotechnology, the environment, innovative manufacturing technologies, sustainable urban development (including renewable energy) as well as marine and Antarctic research.
Outstanding examples of research cooperation between Germany and New Zealand are, in the area of geosciences, the institutional partnership GENESYS between the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam and New Zealand’s Institute of Geological and Nuclear Science (GNS), and the joint graduate programme INTERCOAST – Integrated Coastal Zone and Shelf-Sea Research between the Universities of Bremen and Waikato, which was launched in February 2010. In early 2008, the New Zealand-German Science Circle was officially launched, an intergovernmental initiative featuring lectures by prominent scientists that is designed to further promote mutual understanding in research matters. On the sidelines of Federal Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Auckland in November 2014, the University of Auckland and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to conduct a research project on preventive ergonomics and rehabilitation measures. The project’s official launch was announced during New Zealand Prime Minister John Key’s visit to Germany on 1 December 2015. Another partnership, in production engineering, between the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA and the Universities of Auckland and Stuttgart is in the advanced proposal phase.
There are numerous German scientists and academics working at universities and research institutions in New Zealand. The German side awards a large number of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships and an above-average number of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation scholarships to New Zealanders. Conversely, in 2004 New Zealand launched the Julius von Haast Fellowship Fund with the specific aim of promoting the exchange of researchers between Germany and New Zealand. This programme enables German researchers to spend time in New Zealand as guest researchers. The DAAD has seconded a lecturer in German to the University of Auckland. Together with the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute, she provides information and advice on scholarships and on Germany as a study and research destination. Conversely, the Institut Ranke-Heinemann in Essen and Berlin represents all of New Zealand’s universities. It offers independent counselling free of charge on all questions relating to studying in New Zealand. In November 2014, Professor Peter Schwerdtfeger, a German chemist engaged in research at Massey University in Auckland, was presented with New Zealand’s top research award, the Rutherford Medal, by the Royal Society of New Zealand (RSNZ). The German research vessel SONNE regularly operates in New Zealand waters and, after making several port calls there in 2016, is expected to call at Auckland three times in early 2017.
Bilateral cultural relations are intensive and wide-ranging. Cultural life in New Zealand boasts a particularly vibrant festival scene for all types of performing arts (including the off cultural scene). German artists appear at many of the country’s festivals: the Tanztheater Wuppertal and children’s book author Cornelia Funke were among those participating in the prestigious New Zealand Festival in February and March 2016.
The Goethe Institute runs an artists-in-residence programme for German cultural workers. Conversely, the arts promotion agency Creative New Zealand awards two alternating grants to artists and writers – the Writer’s and the Visual Artist’s Residency – enabling to stay in Germany. In 2012, New Zealand was the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The Wellington-based Goethe Institute is the principal mediator of German language and culture in New Zealand. Besides offering language courses, each year it organises a wide range of cultural events in cooperation with local partners. In addition, the Goethe Societies in Auckland, Waikato and Wellington help to foster German language and culture.
There are five partner schools in New Zealand belonging to the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH) that give special priority to German teaching. The fifth PASCH school was opened in May 2013 at a ceremony attended by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
Since 2000, the Working Holiday Programme has enabled young people to finance stays of up to twelve months in the partner country by taking a vacation job there. This gives them the opportunity to learn something about each other’s culture and everyday life. Every year, some 14,000 young Germans travel around New Zealand under this programme. In addition, there are nearly 2,600 Germans studying at universities in New Zealand.