In this section

Our relationship with the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a close partner of New Zealand, with a relationship based on shared values and interests, and extensive people-to-people connections.

In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman became the first European explorer to sight New Zealand, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that significant numbers of Dutch immigrated to New Zealand. By 1968, they formed the biggest group of non-British immigrant groups and today more than 150,000 New Zealanders claim Dutch heritage. There is also a sizable expatriate New Zealand community in the Netherlands.

We have numerous links in the areas of scientific research and education. These include links between Massey University and Wageningen University in the area of agricultural research. The Netherlands is a founding member of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.

There are a number of organisations that support the relationship between our two countries, including the New Zealand Netherlands Foundation (established in 1990) and the Stichting Nederland Nieuw Zeeland (established in 2008).

A total of 256 New Zealand airmen, who were casualties of the Second World War, are buried in the Netherlands. Their graves are in 85 locations and are diligently looked after by local people.

More recently, a Māori war canoe, Te Hono ki Aotearoa, was permanently lent to the Volkenkunde Museum in Leiden. This is the only "living" waka in Europe and has its own Dutch crew. In May 2015, the museum marked the fifth anniversary of the waka's arrival in the Netherlands with an inaugural Waka Weekend.


2017 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$1.4 billion


Exports to the Netherlands

$874 million  

Top exports: sheep meat, dairy products and unwrought aluminium

Imports from the Netherlands

$571 million

Top imports: machinery, tobacco and food preparations


US$824.8 billion


The Netherlands economy is the 17th largest in the world and the sixth largest in the European Union, despite a population of only 16.9 million. It is home to a number of major multinational firms such as Heineken, ING, Philips, Unilever, Rabobank and Shell. The Netherlands is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of goods, a significant exporter of commercial services and the eighth-largest importer of goods.

The Netherlands is an important export destination for New Zealand’s goods and a significant source of investment. 

For the year ending June 2016, the Netherlands was our fourth-largest trading partner within the EU, and our largest European investor.  Its strategic location within Europe, a population with strong language and entrepreneurial skills, quality infrastructure, and an open and outward-looking economy make the Netherlands an attractive gateway to Europe for New Zealand companies.

Fonterra has its European Headquarters in Amsterdam and recently opened a state-of-the-art dairy ingredients factory in Friesland in partnership with Dutch conglomerate A-Ware Food Group. Mainfreight also has a large presence in the Netherlands. In 2011 Mainfreight purchased a Dutch logistics company to complement its operations.

Working Holiday Scheme

New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a 12-month working holiday visa for the Netherlands.

For more information, read the Embassy of the Netherlands in New Zealand website (external link).


Recent official visits

New Zealand to the Netherlands
  • February 2016: Minister of Trade Todd McClay for consultations with Dutch government and business
  • July 2015: Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister for Trade and Foreign Affairs Todd McClay visited the Hague and Heerenveen for the opening of a Fonterra ingredients factory
  • April 2015: Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Paul Goldsmith visited The Hague to attend the Global Conference on cyber-security and met his counterpart, Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp
  • March 2014: Prime Minister John Key travelled to The Hague for the Nuclear Security Summit. While there he met Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The Netherlands to New Zealand
  • June 2015: Vice Minister for Foreign Economic Relations Simon Smits led a trade mission to New Zealand and met with then-Trade Minister Tim Groser to discuss closer economic cooperation
  • April 2015: General Tom Middedorp, Chief of Defence, visited for discussions on defence and capability
  • February 2014: Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans visited for discussions on trade and investment

News & Events

Māori Electoral Option 2018

Latin America
Middle East
North America
North Asia
South Asia
South East Asia

The Māori Electoral Option is an opportunity for anyone who is of New Zealand Māori descent and who is enrolled to vote to choose which electoral roll they want to be on – the General roll or the Māori roll.

Statement on Situation in Chechnya


Equal Rights Coalition members urgently call on Russian authorities to investigate reports of arbitrary detention, torture and killing of gay men by security services in Chechnya.