New Zealand’s aid programme with Kiribati focuses on building a healthy, educated, and resilient population in a well-governed country that provides acceptable future choices for its population.

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Our relationship with Kiribati

New Zealand and Kiribati have a relationship based on shared global and Pacific interests, and we partner on issues such as sustainable development, climate change, and maritime safety. We are both members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bass) comprises 33 atolls in three island groups spread over 3.5 million square kilometres in the central Pacific. It is home to just over 110,000 citizens, known as I-Kiribati. About 1,600 I-Kiribati live in New Zealand.

Formal relations began after Kiribati became independent from the United Kingdom in 1979 and New Zealand opened a High Commission in Tarawa in 1988.


2015 statistics 

Total trade in goods 



Exports to Kiribati

$14.9 million 

Top exports: furniture, vehicles, iron, steel and sawn or chipped wood

Imports from Kiribati


Top imports: plastic, electric machinery


US$181 million

GDP per capita US$1,647 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  3.8%  

Kiribati is one of New Zealand’s smallest trading partners and exports and imports can fluctuate wildly from year to year.


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Kiribati on improving fisheries infrastructure and upgrading the transport and energy sectors. We also work to improve the health of i-Kiribati.

Read more about our aid programme in Kiribati

Each year more than 100 I-Kiribati come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and wine industries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE). The money they earn and send home is an important source of income for Kiribati.

Find out more about the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme (external link)


Recent official visits

New Zealand to Kiribati
  • June 2016: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett visited during the New Zealand - European Union Mission to the Pacific
  • 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited during the Pacific Energy Mission along with EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs
  • 2012: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited with a small business delegation
  • 2010: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited Tarawa and Kiritimati Island with a 30 strong delegation
  • 2009: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited during Independence Week
Kiribati to New Zealand
  • February 2016: President Anote Tong was the keynote speaker at Victoria University's climate change conference, 'In the eye of the storm'. President Tong also met with Minister McCully 
  • 2014: Minister of Labour and Human Resource Development Martin Moreti visited New Zealand on an RSE scheme mission 
  • April 2013: MPs Martin Moreti and Tetaake Kwong attended the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum in Wellington
  • March 2013: President Tong attended the Pacific Energy Summit in Auckland
  • 2012: President Tong led the Hillary Institute’s 5th Annual Symposium on Climate Equity in Christchurch where he was awarded the 2012 Global Hillary Laureate

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