Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

It is a pleasure to be here at this New Zealand China Council reception at the time of the Lunar New Year, the advent of the Year of the Pig and to celebrate Te Papa’s staging of the Terracotta warriors exhibition.

Let me acknowledge:

  • Her Excellency, Ms Wu Xi, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China
  • Chair of the New Zealand China Council, Sir Don McKinnon and your fellow board members
  • Members of Parliament and distinguished guests.

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade here in our national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa.

China is a very important and highly valued partner for New Zealand. For those of us who work closely on the relationship we understand that China also values its relationship with New Zealand. And our relationship continues to grow.

We have important political, economic, and cultural links, built on a foundation of historical and contemporary connections between our two peoples.

New Zealand and China cooperate on a wide range of global issues, such as:

  • working together to strengthen the WTO; and
  • sharing objectives to address climate change.

And we have rich cultural and people to people exchanges.

We see this in the growing importance of the New Zealand Chinese community and the increasing richness of our people-to-people links at the lantern festivals in Auckland and Christchurch and here at Te Papa with the excitement of the Terracotta Warriors exhibition.

The trade relationship also continues to grow strongly.

New Zealand and China can take pride in our pioneering free trade agreement, negotiated 11 years ago now. It has been a strong platform for our mutually beneficial trade and economic relationship.

New Zealand and Chinese officials are working together to upgrade this agreement. And we continue to negotiate a work plan under our Belt and Road Initiative Memorandum of Arrangement.

Two-way trade in goods and services now stands at $28.8 billion and we are on track to meet our target of $30 billion by 2020.

2018 was a significant year in the trade relationship, with New Zealand participating in the China International Import Expo, led by President Xi.

New Zealand participated with two significant pavilions and a visit by Minister of Trade, Hon David Parker. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise report that a number of significant deals were concluded at the expo.

On Tourism, 2018 visitor arrivals from China were up 7.3 percent. Holiday visitors were up 8.8 percent and visitor spending grew 14 percent.

The significant flow of tourists and students builds mutual understanding day by day. This understanding is vital, given that our two countries are different in many ways: historically, culturally, politically, and vastly different in size.

At times we disagree on issues that are important to both countries. But we have a mature relationship, and work together to acknowledge differences, and to view complementarities as opportunities. We work together constructively to pursue common goals.

In conclusion: we place a very high priority on our relationship with China; it’s a significant and complex relationship, and one that brings great benefit to both parties.

New Zealanders and Chinese people continue to visit each other’s countries; to undertake official meetings; to do business with each other; and to build stronger and stronger cultural and people-to-people links.