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Map of South Africa

Map of South Africa.
flag of Republic of South Africa.

Republic of South Africa

Bilateral relationship

New Zealand and South Africa’s political, economic, and social ties have grown steadily from almost no contact at the ending of the apartheid era to a vibrant and growing relationship today. Following the inauguration in 1994 of the first fully democratic South African Government, New Zealand lifted all trade, investment, and finance-related sanctions against South Africa. In 1996, President Mandela and Prime Minister Bolger signed the Cape Town Communiqué, which sought to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. Since then a flow of high-level visits has shaped the political relationship.

Recent highlights in the bilateral relationship include finalisation and signing of a Film Co-Production Agreement and the launching of a work programme to expand trade ties in 2011, a Fisheries Co-operation Arrangement concluded in March 2007, and amendments to the existing bilateral Air Services Agreement in 2009 to allow for improved air links between the two countries.  The opening of a South African High Commission in Wellington in April 2009 was also a significant step towards deepening political, economic, trade and business ties. 

People to people links are the most dynamic part of the relationship, as highlighted by the high profile sporting links between the countries. Some 50,000 South Africans now reside in New Zealand, some of whom are actively looking to generate stronger connections with their former home.  Around 300 New Zealanders also live in South Africa. With this substantial flow of people and the strong relationships, South Africa is a visa waiver country.

Official development assistance

New Zealand’s development relationship with South Africa is moving from one of donor-recipient to one of partnership and cooperation. The change of focus reflects South Africa’s  emergence as a donor in its own right within the sub-Saharan Africa region.

Current activities include regional support to Student Partnerships Worldwide, Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA),  New Zealand Development and Commonwealth Scholarships, a small Head of Mission Fund, and support to a sheep shearing project in the Eastern Cape. As the aid relationship has moved to a new footing, the South Africa Fund for Exchange (“SAFE”) has been established to support the relationship. The purpose of the SAFE is to assist in building people-to-people links between the Eastern Cape region of South Africa and New Zealand by providing opportunity for people-to-people contact. The exchanges may involve (for example), initiatives that have a focus on developing systems and processes, building people’s skills, working on projects, and programmes and processes that are consistent with the goals of the South Africa Relationship initiative.

South Africa continues to be an important dialogue partner on aid, and New Zealand will continue to monitor, and support as appropriate South Africa’s broader role in regional development.

Multilateral linkages

New Zealand and South Africa have a close working relationship on topics where our interests converge in the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other multilateral organisations. Co-operation is also strong in the context of the Antarctic Treaty (South Africa is a consultative party), the Commission on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), and on Indian Ocean fisheries issues. The two countries also share similar positions on disarmament as members of the New Agenda Group, and South Africa and New Zealand are both members of the Cairns Group, a group of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members which have significant agricultural trade.

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Key facts


Official Name - Republic of South Africa - Land Area - 1,219,080 km2 - Population - 50.1 million (2011 UN estimate) - Capital City - Pretoria - Religion - Christianity (80%), Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and traditional African beliefs - Languages - Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, siSwati, Xitsonga, Setswana, Tshivenda, isiXhosa and isiZulu - Currency - 1 Rand (ZAR) = 100 cents - Exchange Rate - US$1= 7.53 ZAR; NZ$1 = 6.32 ZAR (March 2012)


Political system - Federal state, consisting of a central government and nine provincial governments
National government - Elected National Assembly, which elects a President who is able to serve a maximum of two five-year terms. Since 1994 government has been led by the African National Congress (ANC)
National legislature - Bicameral parliament elected every five years, comprising the 400-seat National Assembly (elected by proportional representation, based equally on national and regional vote) and the 90-seat National Council of Provinces (elected by regional assemblies).
Last election - 6 May 2009(Presidential); 22 April 2009 (Legislative)
Next election due
- 2014 (both Presidential and Legislative)
Head of State
- President Jacob Zuma (sine 9 May 2009) -
Deputy President - Kgalema Motlanthe
Key Ministers:

Main political parties - African National Congress (ANC), South African Communist Party, Congress of South African Trade Unions, Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Congress of the People.


GDP - US$405.3 billion
Real GDP growth - 3.1%
Exports - US$94.3 billion
Imports - US$93.2 billion
Current account balance - US$ -16.8 billion
Inflation - 5.0%
Gross external debt
- US$47.5 billion

New Zealand Trade

NZ Exports (FOB) - NZ$221.33 million
Main Exports - Fish (8%), meat and offal (11%), dairy products (15%)
NZ Imports (CIF)
- NZ$120.20 million
Main Imports
- Cars (17%), Paper/board (8%), Fruit & nuts (9%), spirits/beverages (6%)

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Since 1990, bilateral trade has grown ninefold, to the point where South Africa is New Zealand’s 38th most important export market.  The trading relationship is diverse.

There are around 250 New Zealand companies operating in South Africa. The largest of these is Fonterra, which has a major joint venture with a local dairy company. Specific sectors with potential for growth are food and beverage, agritech, technology, and specialised manufacturing. There is also scope to develop high-end services such as education.

Although the bilateral trade relationship is healthy and flows smoothly without much government involvement, there is clear potential for further growth. In conjunction with the South African Department of Trade and Industry, MFAT is undertaking a work programme to develop further trade following a 2011 independent study to examine the trade relationship and highlight areas with growth potential.


There have been numerous high level visits between New Zealand and South Africa. Recent high-level visits to South Africa have included:


September: Minister responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations, Hon Tim Groser

June: Prime Minister, Hon John Key
August: Minister of Economic Development, Hon Gerry Brownlee

February: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rt Hon Winston Peters

June: Minister of Transport, Hon Annette King

December: Minister of Education, Hon Steve Maharey
February: Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark


October: Delegation, including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, and Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies

March: Minister of Environment and Tourism, Martinus van Schalkwyk

October: Deputy President, Mlambo-Ngcuka



New Zealand established full diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1994 and opened a High Commission in Pretoria in 1996, transferring its diplomatic mission from Zimbabwe. The High Commission is also accredited to Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Other New Zealand Government representation in South Africa includes an Immigration New Zealand office in Pretoria, and an Honorary Consul in Cape Town.

South Africa opened its High Commission in Wellington in April 2009. The current High Commissioner is HE Mr Anthony Mongalo.


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Travel advice

The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to South Africa [external link].

Enquiries may be directed to Consular Division at the following numbers: telephone: +64 4 439 8000; fax: +64 4 439 8532.

Page last updated: Monday, 09 December 2013 13:00 NZDT