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France and New Zealand

Given the new situation created by Brexit, Wellington is seeking to reinforce relationships with its European partners, particularly Germany and France. The sticking points (nuclear testing, the Rainbow Warrior incident and the situation in New Caledonia), which had delayed the development of a relationship of confidence, are now a thing of the past.

In the Pacific, the presence of France through its collectivities is today considered important for stability, as reflected by New Zealand’s support of the accession of New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna as full members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF – the main regional political organization).

New Zealand announced a €600,000 financial contribution to President Macron’s initiative for adaptation and biodiversity in the Pacific, which was officially launched during the 2018 One Planet Summit. Australia has committed a similar sum and the European Union has committed €10 million, as has France.

The First World War was central in forging the New Zealand identity (with 100,000 soldiers fighting in the war, 18,500 of whom were killed and 41,500 wounded), and remains a powerful symbol of the friendship between France and New Zealand. The commemoration of the centenary of the First World War has reinforced bilateral relations, with, in particular, reciprocal visits in 2016 by the countries’ Prime Ministers. Increasing numbers of high-level visits have taken place in recent years, in particular the meeting between the French President and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Paris on 16 April 2018. The joint declaration adopted after this visit reflected plans for enhanced long-term cooperation to ensure better global governance, especially in fields such as the fight against climate change and the promotion of multilateralism.

Bilateral military relations continue to grow stronger benefiting the whole of Oceania. The most recent political-military consultations were held in March 2018 in Paris. Our armies cooperate on a regular basis particularly under the FRANZ (France, Australia, New Zealand) Agreement during emergency and humanitarian interventions in the event of natural disasters in the region, as was the case recently following the volcanic eruption on Ambae Island in Vanuatu. Our cooperation is also embodied by the Quadrilateral Defence Coordination Group (QUAD, which includes FRANZ plus the United States), which seeks to ensure maritime security in close cooperation with the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation remains vibrant. French is the leading foreign language taught in the New Zealand school system (47,000 students). Working Holiday visas for people aged 15 to 30 enable young people from both countries to work or reside in the other country for a maximum period of one year. More than 11,000 young French people visit New Zealand with this visa every year. Scientific exchanges with Paris are supported through the joint scientific Dumont d’Urville programme, a Hubert Curien Partnership (PHC) (around 50 projects since 2005). France also encourages research in the Pacific on specific problems of the region via the Pacific Fund, which finances two to four projects between New Zealand and French Pacific communities every year.

Although bilateral trade remains dependent on the aviation sector, it has averaged around €800 million for the past 10 years, with a trade surplus for France (€49 million in 2017).

The Embassy of France in New Zealand, which houses a New Caledonian delegate, coordinates with the New Zealand authorities and assists the community of 10,000 French nationals living in New Zealand (5,385 of whom are registered on the consular list). More than 60,000 French visitors and tourists travel to the country every year, half of them from New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

Updated: October 2018