1890 - 1973
Our early leaders
Meet the people who led MFAT in the early days
The origins of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can be traced back to 1926. In that year a small Imperial Affairs Section was set up within the Prime Minister's Department to deal with International affairs of concern to New Zealand. Its successor was the Department of External Affairs, established by Act of Parliament on 11 June 1943 – in 2018 we will celebrate our 75th anniversary.
Over the years, MFAT staff have been involved in many significant events and milestones. The individuals and events that have shaped New Zealand’s external relations are worth remembering – and have lessons to offer our people, and the work we do now and in the future.
Our Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Sir Alister McIntosh (1943 – 1966)
- Sir George Laking (1967 – 1971)
- Frank Corner (1972 – 1980)
- Merwyn Norrish (1980 –1988)
- Graham Ansell (1989 – 1991)
- Richard Nottage (1991 – 1999)
- Neil Walter (1999 – 2002)
- Simon Murdoch (2002 – 2009)
- John Allen (2009 – 2015)
- Brook Barrington (2015 - 2019)
- Chris Seed (2019 - present)
News & Events
The Beeby Colloquium on International Law: Public Session The Christchurch Call to Action - Breaking new ground
Divisional manager Rosemary Paterson reflects on how our values of manaakitanga, kotahitanga and impact are being brought to the fore to mark Public Service Day, 2019.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Arun Jain received the prestigious Westpac New Zealand Spirit of Service Scholarship. He reflects on his first month studying for a Master of Public Policy at Oxford University.
The Ministry’s briefing to the incoming Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth outlines the role and responsibilities of the Associate Minister as well as the Ministry.