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Our relationship with Timor-Leste

New Zealand has a warm relationship with Timor-Leste. We made a significant historic defence and security contribution to Timor-Leste’s establishment as a new nation from 1999 to 2002, and following the internal conflict of 2006. As the security situation has improved, our military and police are less involved and the focus has turned to supporting Timor-Leste’s growth into a stable, democratic and prosperous nation.

This includes a programme of development assistance, growing our two-way trade and economic relationship, encouraging New Zealand businesses to pursue opportunities in Timor-Leste, and supporting Timor-Leste to identify and develop economically sustainable industries in sectors where it has competitive advantage.

Timor-Leste is increasing its own engagement in New Zealand and opened an embassy in Wellington in 2014. The country has applied for ASEAN membership and a committee has been established to consider this application. In 2013 Timor-Leste also formally declared its wish to join the Commonwealth.

Defence and policing

Following the 1999 referendum that led to the restoration of independence, New Zealand Defence and Police personnel were deployed to Timor Leste in significant numbers. Since the withdrawal of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in December 2012 and the withdrawal of the International Stabilization Force (ISF) in March 2013, our Defence and Police presence has reduced significantly.

Today we have five Defence personnel in Timor-Leste under the Mutual Assistance Programme (MAP), two police officers based there long-term under the bilateral Timor-Leste Community Policing Programme, and police mentors from New Zealand visit Timor-Leste several times a year.


2014 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$2.6 million


Exports to Timor-Leste

$2 million 

Top exports: meat, motor vehicles, cheese

Imports from Timor-Leste

$0.6 million

Top imports: coffee, computers, woven flax fabrics


US$4 billion

GDP per capita US$3,638 (NZ GDP per capita is US$43,837)
GDP growth  6.6%  


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Timor-Leste to support the development of a sustainable and growing economy. Together we're focused on private sector development, education and training, and security and justice.

Find out more about our aid programme in Timor-Leste


  • New Zealand is represented in Timor-Leste by the New Zealand Embassy, Dili
  • Timor-Leste is represented in New Zealand by the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Welington 

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Timor-Leste
  • 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully attended the summit of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries
  • September 2012: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited with a trade delegation
  • September 2012: Three Ministers (Dr Jackie Blue, National; Charles Chauvel, Labour; Jan Logie, Greens) were part of the Australia/New Zealand Parliamentary visit to Timor-Leste organised by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
  • July 2012: Five Ministers (Jacqueline Dean and William Tisch, National; Phil Goff, Labour; Dr Kennedy Graham, Greens; and Barbara Stewart, NZ First) were official observers at the Timor-Leste parliamentary elections
Timor-Leste to New Zealand
  • September 2014: Prime Minister HE Xanana Gusmao made a brief visit in transit from the Small Island Developing States conference in Apia, Samoa
  • May 2014: Vice Minister of Justice, HE Mr Ivo Jorge Valente to study our youth justice processes
  • April 2014: Secretary of State for the Support and Promotion of the Private Sector, HE Ms Veneranda Lemos to promote increased two-way trade and investment
  • 2013: State visit by President of the Republic HE Taur Matan Ruak with First Lady Madame Isabel da Costa Ferreira, and Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation HE Dr José Luís Guterres

News & Events

NZ nominates Helen Clark for UN Secretary-General

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Prime Minister John Key has today announced the New Zealand Government is nominating Helen Clark for the position of the United Nations Secretary-General.

United Nations Handbook 2015-2016 released

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On 15 September the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade released the 2015-2016 edition of the United Nations Handbook. The UN Handbook is designed to be an accessible guide to the complex UN system.