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Our relationship with Samoa 

It’s over 100 years since Britain asked New Zealand to undertake a "great and urgent Imperial service" and occupy Samoa, which until then had been administered by Germany. A 1,400-strong New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August 1914, with no resistance from the German officials or the Samoan population. This was New Zealand’s first role in World War I, and Samoa was under the trusteeship of New Zealand from 1919 until it became independent in 1962 – the first Pacific island country to achieve independence. In the same year we signed a Treaty of Friendship, and have had close relations ever since.

We have more than 144,000 Samoans living in New Zealand – making up 49% of our Pacific Island population. Under a special immigration quota, up to 1,100 Samoans can get permanent resident status here each year. This is on top of the number coming to New Zealand under normal immigration arrangements.

Samoan is the most common Pacific language delivered in our schools, and 33 schools offered the primary and secondary curriculum in Samoan in 2013. Samoa’s art, culture, sport, language and politics make an important contribution to New Zealand. We in turn contribute to Samoa’s economy and social services with a wide range of aid initiatives.

Defence and Police

Samoa doesn’t have its own military forces. New Zealand's air force is involved with maritime surveillance over Samoa’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), often with Samoan officials on board. In addition our Air Force planes and Navy vessels make regular visits to Samoa.

The New Zealand Police and Samoa Police and Prison Service share a long, close association. Our police force supports Samoa’s domestic violence unit and canine unit, and trains Samoan police in prosecutions and maintaining public order.


Samoa’s land mass covers 2,820 square kilometres, spread over nine islands to the northeast of Fiji. The two large islands, Upolu and Savai’i, are home to 99% of the 196,315 population. The capital Apia is on Upolu.


2016 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$115.0 million


Exports to Samoa

$109.64 million 

Top exports: Machinery and equipment; Wood and articles of wood; Industrial supplies; Foodstuffs

Imports from Samoa

$6.7 million

Top imports: Edible vegetables; Beverages; Edible fruits and nuts


US$786.3 million

GDP per capita US$4,03  
GDP growth  7.1%  

The Samoan Government is serious about changing the trade imbalance between our two countries. In 2011 it launched the Auckland-based New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission to facilitate, strengthen and increase the flow of trade and investment between New Zealand and Samoa.

Tourism is Samoa’s top foreign exchange earner, and New Zealand is Samoa’s largest source of tourism income with Kiwis making up around 45% of holidaymakers.

More than 144,000 Samoans live in New Zealand, and the money they send home (called remittances) to Samoa is an important source of income for the country.


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Samoa to boost productivity through developing tourism and renewable energy, and improvements to health and education.

Find out more about our aid programme in Samoa

Samoans can come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and wine industries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme. The money they earn and send home is an important source of income for Samoa.

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


Recent official visits

New Zealand to Samoa
  • March 2018: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Winston Peters led a Pacific Mission to Samoa, Niue, Tonga, and the Cook Islands on 4-9 March. While in Samoa the Prime Minister met with the Samoan Prime Minister, other ministers and attended a number of climate change and disaster resilience related events.
  • September 2017: Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee attended the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting in Apia
  • May-June 2017: Prime Minister Bill English undertook a state visit to Samoa, where he observed the 55th anniversary celebration of Samoa's Independence
  • March 2017: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully made a bilateral visit to Samoa
Samoa to New Zealand
  • February 2018: Communications and Information Technology Minister Afamasaga Rico Tupai visit New Zealand to attend the 2030 Digital Nations Conference in Auckland and the D5 Ministerial Summit in Wellington where he met with the Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media.
  • May 2017: Prisons and Rehabilitation Services Minister Tialavea Fea Leniu Tionisio Hunt led a delegation to inspect New Zealand prisons
  • May 2017: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi visited Auckland and met with Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee
  • May 2017: Communications and Information Technology Minister Afamasaga Rico Tupai'i visited New Zealand to inspect a data centre

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