Our relationship with Tuvalu

Tuvalu is one of the smallest independent states in the world, with a population of 11,000 and a land area of only 26 square kilometres spread across nine low-lying islands and atolls. Tuvalu is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather and climate change, and it has become a vocal advocate for global action on climate change.

New Zealand and Tuvalu share common interests around issues in the Pacific, and work together on regional and international issues such as renewable energy, fisheries, climate change and labour and employment. There are 3,500 Tuvaluans living in New Zealand.

Tuvalu was once known as the Ellis Islands, Ellice Islands, as part of the Gilbert and Ellice Group. Following a 1976 referendum, it separated from the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati) and became known as Tuvalu. In 1978 Tuvalu declared independence from Great Britain.

Tuvalu joined the United Nations in 2000.  

The Tuvalu Trust Fund

Tuvalu’s main sources of income are from fisheries, "dot tv" revenues, and Tuvaluans working overseas who send money home. These income streams can be inconsistent, and are able to be supplemented with income from the Tuvalu Trust Fund (TTF).

The TTF was set up in October 1987 with contributions from Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Tuvalu and the United Kingdom. The capital is invested globally and distributions are paid back to the Tuvalu Government. Today, Tuvalu is the largest contributor, with successive governments maintaining the capital value of the Fund.

Tuvalu has been able to capitalise on the rights to the highly marketable internet domain "dot tv". Revenue from "dot TV" makes up just over 12% of Tuvalu's 2015 budget.


2014 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$7.6 million


Exports to Tuvalu

$7.6 million 

Top exports: electric accumulators, electrical transformers, diodes, transistors, and other semiconductor devices

Imports from Tuvalu


Top imports: aluminium waste and scrap, transmission apparatus parts


US$38 million

GDP per capita US$3,484 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  2.2%  

Trade in goods between New Zealand and Tuvalu is modest. 


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Tuvalu on initiatives that support sustainable economic growth, reduce poverty and increase Tuvalu’s resilience.

Find out more about our aid programme in Tuvalu

Tuvaluans come to New Zealand to work in our horticulture and wine industries under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The money they earn and send home is an important source of income for Tuvalu.

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

Tuvaluans can apply for New Zealand residency under the Pacific Access Category.


  • New Zealand is represented in Tuvalu through the New Zealand-based High Commissioner, Linda Te Puni.
  • Tuvalu is represented in New Zealand by the High Commission of Tuvalu, Wellington .

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Tuvalu
  • 2016: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Murray McCully, and Minister for Climate Change Issues, Hon Paula Bennett, visited Tuvalu during the New Zealand European Union Mission to the Pacific on 1-5 June
  • 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited Tuvalu as part of the Pacific Energy Mission
  • 2012: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Kiribati
  • 2010: NZ Defence Force and MFAT disaster planning and response exercise, Exercise Tropic Twilight, was held in Tuvalu
Tuvalu to New Zealand
  • 2016: Minister of Natural Resources, Dr Puakena Boreham, visited New Zealand for the Pacific Parliamentary Forum in November
  • 2016: Prime Minister Sopoaga visited New Zealand in June for the Pacific Energy Conference
  • 2016: Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Environment and Labour Minister Finikaso visited New Zealand in March
  • 2015: Prime Minister Sopoaga and Foreign Minister Finikaso visited Wellington for the opening of the Tuvalu High Commission
  • 2011: A delegation from the Parliament of Tuvalu visited as part of the annual inter-parliamentary programme. The delegation included Speaker Rt Hon Sir Kamatu Latasi, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Hon Dr Falesa Pitoi, Minister of Natural Resources Hon Isaia Taeia Italeli and Minister of Health Hon Taom Tanukale


News & Events

Pacific Quota Ballot announced


People from Fiji, Kiribati and Tuvalu who entered the ballot for a Pacific Access Category Resident Visa can find out if they have been selected.

2017 New Zealand General Election

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The General Election will be held on 23 September 2017. Voters who are overseas can vote from 6 September to 23 September.