New Zealand

General Info

  • Official Name: New Zealand - Named after the Dutch province Zeeland (“sealand”), and anglicised to Zealand by British explorer James Cook.
  • Official Languages: English, Māori
  • Māori, also known as te reo (“the language”) is spoken by New Zealand’s indigenous Māori population.
  • Population: 4,980,050
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($)
  • New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and south of Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. It has two main landmasses, the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu), and around 600 smaller islands.
  • Capital: Wellington
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Queen Elizabeth II is head of state, and represented by a governor-general.
  • Legislative authority is vested in an elected, unicameral Parliament
  • Executive power is exercised by the Cabinet, led by a prime minister, currently Jacinda Ardern.
  • Biodiversity
  • New Zealand’s geographic isolation for 80 million years and island biodiversity has resulted in a wide range of indigenous plants and animals which are endemic, or unique to the islands. 
  • About 82% of New Zealand’s indigenous vascular plants are endemic.
  • Since human arrival in the 1200s CE, almost half of the country’s vertebrate species have become extinct. Others are endangered or have had their range severely reduced.



  • New Zealand is one of the most secular societies in the world.
  • In the 2018 census, 48.5% of citizens indicated that they had no religion. Of the 44.7% who identified with one or more religions, 37% identified as Christian. The Māori-based Ringatū and Rātana religions are also Christian in origin.
  • Minority religions include Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Sikhism.


  • In the 2018 census, 71.8% of New Zealand residents identified as ethnically European, and 16.5% as Māori. Other ethnic groups include Asian (15.3%) and Pacific peoples (9%). 
  • Immigrants in New Zealand make up just over 25% of the population, with the majority living in the Auckland region.
  • The United Kingdom remains the largest source of New Zealand’s immigrant population, with a quarter of all overseas-born New Zelanders born there. Other major sources include China, Australia, South Africa, Fiji and Samoa.


Societal Values

  • Historically, Māori social organization was largely communal with families (whānau), subtribes (hapū) and tribes (iwi) ruled by a chief (rangatira), whose position was subject to community approval. 
  • Many Māori still regard their allegiance to tribal groups as a vital part of their identity, and kinship roles resemble those of other Polynesian peoples.
  • The largely rural life in early New Zealand led to the image of New Zealanders being rugged, industrious problem solvers.
  • New Zealanders place high value on the environment, and border controls are extremely tight in respect to the import of food, natural products, and foreign animals.
  • New Zealanders are very egalitarian, and will move quickly to a first name basis, and shun the use of titles.



Economy & Doing Business

  • New Zealand has a high income, advanced market economy and is ranked third in The Wall Street Journal’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom.
  • New Zealand is highly dependent on international trade, particularly in agricultural products.
  • Food products made up 55% of the country’s exports in 2014. 
  • Dairy farming doubled between 1990 and 2007, becoming the country's largest export earner.
  • The wine industry has followed this trend, and vineyards have doubled over the same period.
  • Renewable energy, primarily from hydropower and geothermal power, generates 40% of primary energy and over 80% of electricity in New Zealand.
  • New Zealanders appreciate honesty and directness in business dealings, and prefer business presentations with facts and figures, rather than emotions.
  • Appointments are usually necessary at least a week in advance, and meetings are conducted on time. 
  • At the same time, Kiwis are casual, and meetings are generally relaxed.
  • Under promising and over delivering are keys to building trust in New Zealand.
  • Kiwis are quite comfortable working in teams, and do not expect to be singled out for their contribution. This collaborative and participative management style reflects New Zealand’s egalitarian society.
  • When doing business with a Māori tribal group (iwi), formal welcoming protocols may be practiced and having a guide or Māori speaker in party is recommended. Song is an important part of Māori ceremonies and gatherings, and it may be a good idea to memorize a song from your home country, as singing would show respect and thanks.
  • Reliability is strongly valued in business culture. If promises are not kept or business falls through, it is often strongly remembered. Furthermore, absenteeism is not tolerated in New Zealand; employee and colleague dependability is expected.


March 10, 2020