June 20, 2024

Analysis of India-New Zealand Relations

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By: Nihal Kujur, Research Analyst, GSDN

India-New Zealand flags: source Internet


The contact between India and New Zealand (NZ) is referred to as India-New Zealand relations. Both of these countries were previously a part of the British Empire. India and New Zealand have a long and friendly relationship. In an overview of India-New Zealand relations, India and New Zealand are founded in the Commonwealth, parliamentary democracy, and the English language. Both countries have been committed to disarmament, global peace, North-South dialogue, human rights, environmental preservation, and battling international terrorism. Tourism and sporting relations, particularly in cricket, hockey, and mountaineering, have played an important role in strengthening ties between the two countries.  With about 15,000 Indian students pursuing higher education in fields such as information technology, hospitality, science, engineering, and architecture annually, India is the second-largest source of international students in New Zealand. Education and tourism are important components in the New Zealand’s economy.

India-New Zealand Bilateral Relations

Both countries attained independence in the same year, and India’s diplomatic relationship with New Zealand began in 1950 with the establishment of a Trade Commission, which eventually ascended to the position of High Commission. India has an Honorary Consulate in Auckland and a High Commission in Wellington, while New Zealand has a High Commission in New Delhi, a Consulate in Mumbai, trade offices in both cities, and an Honorary Consulate in Chennai.


Historical Relations

India and New Zealand (NZ) have a longstanding, friendly and growing relationship. Their ties go back to the 1800s, with Indians settling in Christchurch as early as the 1850s. Larger numbers of immigrants from Punjab and Gujarat came to NZ in the 1890s. Indian troops fought alongside the Anzacs in Gallipoli in 1915.The bond between India and NZ is rooted in their shared history as former colonies of the British Empire. India becoming a priority for New Zealand is seen in its Open Doors to India policy. Pranab Mukherjee was the first Indian President to visit New Zealand in August 2016.

Political Relations

Both gaining independence the same year and starting diplomatic representation since 1950 with the establishment of a Trade Commission, the diplomatic ties between these two nations were officially established in 1952. Since then, New Zealand and India have maintained diplomatic ties. Both nations are members of a number of international organizations, and their relations extend to trade, culture, and education.

During Covid-19 pandemic, both countries cooperated extensively in fighting against the pandemic by ensuring the continuity of supply chains of essential commodities, medicines, and vaccines.

Trade Relations: 

With total two-way commerce valued at US$1.80 billion in 2020, New Zealand is the 11th largest two-way trading partner. Education and tourism are two of New Zealand’s fastest growing industries in India. Before the epidemic, about 15000 Indian students were the second largest source of overseas students in New Zealand.

• The number of Indian tourists to New Zealand in 2018 was the ninth highest, at 67,953.

• India largely imports logs and forestry goods from New Zealand, as well as wood pulp, wool, and edible fruit and nuts.

• Pharmaceuticals/medications, precious metals and stones, textiles and motor vehicles, and non-knitted clothes and accessories are the most common Indian exports to New Zealand. India and New Zealand have Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

The India-New Zealand Business Council (INZBC) and the India-New Zealand Trade Alliance (INZTA) are two important organizations that strive to improve India-New Zealand trade and investment cooperation.

Cultural Relations 

All Indian holidays, such as Diwali, Holi, Rakshabandhan, Baisakhi, Guruparv, Onam, and Pongal, are widely celebrated in New Zealand. In 2021, New Zealand Post released a set of four new stamps representing the narrative of Diwali. NZ has roughly 2,50,000 people of Indian descent and NRIs, the great majority of whom have made the country their permanent home.

Strategic relations

‘India-New Zealand 2025: Investing in the Relationship’ establishes a framework on which New Zealand Government agencies and partners can build over the next five years to improve the relationship with India. New Zealand has pledged to working closely with Mori, Indian communities, businesses, colleges, and research groups to help achieve the strategy’s goals. New Zealand is opposed to India’s membership in the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). It has refused to change its position on admitting only Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a club of 48 countries that functions by agreement. New Zealand is a member of the New Agenda for Coalition, an organization that promotes the NPT and works for worldwide nuclear disarmament. Students from India are eligible to apply for Commonwealth Scholarships to pursue postgraduate studies in New Zealand. The two countries established the India-New Zealand Education Council in June 2011.

New Zealand’s importance for India         

New Zealand has world-class technologies in the dairy industry. India is collaborating with NZ in this field. A significant number of Indians go to New Zealand for studies and jobs, hence is important for India’s diaspora presence around the world. Moreover, India seeks its support for NSG and UNSC.

To strengthen bilateral ties, India and New Zealand inked three agreements in 2016 in the fields of double taxation avoidance (DTA), sports, and food security. Both countries have agreed to expand their collaboration in cyber security, counter-terrorism, customs, education, and food safety. 

India’s bid for NSG membership

During the New Zealand Prime Minister’s visit, India was unable to obtain New Zealand’s unequivocal backing for its bid for Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) membership. India had made it clear to New Zealand that its admission to the NSG was dependent on renewable energy and climate change obligations. As a result, it suggests that New Zealand has yet to abandon its policy of admitting only Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories to the NSG, a club of 48 countries that operates on consensus. 

New Zealand does not support India’s bid to NSG because it is a member of the New Agenda for Coalition, which advocates the NPT and works for global nuclear disarmament. The official state visit by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key comes ahead of an important NSG Consultative Group meeting in Vienna in November 2016.

This meeting was held to determine whether nations who have not signed the NPT can be considered for membership. Earlier in June 2016, India’s NSG membership application had failed to gain traction in Seoul (South Korea) due to opposition from China and other countries. New Zealand was also one of the countries, led by China that advocated the establishment of criteria for non-signatories to the NPT to join the NSG.

Recent Developments

In 2022, S. Jaishankar, the External Affairs Minister (EAM) of India, for first time visited New Zealand. During the visit, EAM and Ms. Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, honored members of the Indian community in the country for their outstanding contributions and accomplishments. Both leaders released India@75 postal stamps in recognition of the celebration of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in New Zealand. EAM published the book ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’. There was also a book published called “Heartfelt – The Legacy of Faith,” which emphasized the unique bond that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has with the Sikh community.

He met New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Ms. Nanaia Mahuta, to examine the condition of the overall partnership. He also met with a number of ministers, including Ms. Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Minister for Community and Voluntary Sector, Diversity, Inclusion, and Ethnic Communities, and Youth, the first person of Indian origin to be appointed to a cabinet position in New Zealand, as well as parliamentarians, business leaders, and members of the Indian diaspora, including Indian students during the visit.

In February 2023, Ms. Nanaia Mahuta, Foreign Minister of New Zealand, undertook her maiden official visit to India at the invitation of External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. During her maiden visit to India as Foreign Minister, both Ministers talked on a variety of bilateral issues, including economic cooperation, educational exchanges, defence engagements, and people-to-people contacts. They discussed mutual interests in regional and international challenges, as well as India and New Zealand’s shared goal for a rules-based, peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Foreign Minister Mahuta handed over signed copies of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework Agreement to the External Affairs Minister, clearing the way for New Zealand’s participation in this project.

New Zealand asserted that it sees India as a core and influential partner in the Indo-Pacific and has welcomed India’s participation in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework believing that engagement with India as a part of their broader regional agenda.


In conclusion, India-New Zealand relations are deeply rooted in history and have evolved into a comprehensive partnership spanning political, economic, cultural, and strategic sectors. From their common colonial history to their joint efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic, the countries have developed significant connections. While bilateral trade, cultural festivities, and educational exchanges expand, obstacles remain, particularly with regard to India’s NSG membership. Recent high-level visits demonstrate a commitment to improving ties and recognizing common Indo-Pacific values and goals. The relationship covers a wide range of topics, from dairy technology to counter-terrorism measures. Despite their difficulties, both countries actively endeavor to improve cooperation, as seen by recent developments that indicate a favorable trajectory in India and New Zealand’s dynamic relationship.

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