In this section

Our relationship with Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) and New Zealand have a longstanding, friendly and growing relationship that includes regular political consultations, a large aid programme, strong business and commercial connections, and defence cooperation. 

PNG is a rapidly growing economy, strategically bridging Asia and the Pacific. Growth has been  driven in recent years by natural gas and mining (including gold and copper) projects that have provided new opportunities for local businesses and foreign companies. New Zealand is well known and well regarded in PNG, and our commercial presence there is appreciated by both business and government. An increasing number of New Zealand companies are entering the PNG market, and it’s not unusual to find Kiwis in high-level management positions there.

Approximately 2,500 Kiwis live in PNG, and there’s a growing number of Papua New Guinean alumni who have studied in New Zealand and continue to maintain their connections with us.


Mainland PNG and its 600 islands have a landmass of 463,000 square kilometres (almost twice the area of New Zealand at 268,000 square kilometres). Official statistics estimate the population at 6.7 million, although other estimates put this much higher. PNG has over 1,000 tribes (mostly Melanesian with some Micronesian and Polynesian communities) and more than 830 distinct languages are spoken. Most of the population are subsistence farmers, with just 15% living in urban areas.


2014 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$221.4 million


Exports to Papua New Guinea

$207 million 

Top exports: quicklime, mutton and lamb, clad iron or non-alloy steel

Imports from Papua New Guinea

$14.4 million

Top imports: coffee, oil cake, sawn or chipped wood


US$16.06 billion

GDP per capita US$2,133 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  5.8%  

PNG is our second largest goods export market in the Pacific, after Fiji. Services are a growing part of the trade relationship with New Zealand companies increasingly engaged in consulting and helping with institutional and regulatory reform. New Zealand’s private sector is engaged in PNG across a wide range of industries including communications, construction, aviation, engineering, energy and education. 


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with PNG to achieve sustainable economic growth, reduce poverty and become a more secure and prosperous nation.

Find out more about our aid programme in PNG

Papua New Guineans may come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and wine industries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme. PNG's involvement in the scheme began with a pilot in 2011 and continues to grow with 58 Papua New Guineans participating in the scheme in the 2013-14 year.

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

Defence and security

New Zealand has a direct and enduring interest in the security, stability and prosperity of the South Pacific.  Pacific leaders general turn to us in times of need, particularly in response to natural disasters. The international community expects New Zealand along with Australia to take the lead on security and other issues in the region.

New Zealand’s defence relationship with Papua New Guinea is in good shape and is one of our strongest defence relationships in the South Pacific, with a busy and comprehensive schedule of engagements. The relationship is characterised by person-to-person links, frequent leader engagement and partnership through training and exercises.

What is important to the New Zealand Defence Force is that New Zealand is a trusted and valued defence and security partner of Papua New Guinea; that it supports the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to become a strong national institution that contributes positively to Papua New Guinea society and that it is an enabler to the enhancement of Papua New Guinea Defence Force capability and operational effectiveness.


Recent official visits

New Zealand to Papua New Guinea
  • April 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully travelled to Port Moresby with a small trade delegation
  • August 2013: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully led a delegation of politicians, leaders from non-government organisations and business people to PNG as part of this annual Pacific Mission
  • June 2013: Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson attended a small and medium enterprises summit, Madang
Papua New Guinea to New Zealand
  • June 2014: Minister for Pubic Enterprise and State Investment Ben Micah visited New Zealand to discuss energy and land ownership model issues
  • August 2013: Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato, Sport Minister Justin Tkatchenko and Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll visited New Zealand

News & Events

Papua New Guinea: 2017 Elections

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea national elections will be held in 2017 with polling open from 24 June 2017 until 8 July 2017.