16 June 2008

Minister of Foreign Affairs says NZ and Europe have fruitful, mutual relationship

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At this year’s Europa Lecture, the Rt Hon Winston Peters has praised the maturity of the relationship between New Zealand and Europe, saying both parties have reaped the benefits. The Minister delivered his speech at the University of Auckland Business School on 12th June, as part of a series of annual lectures run by the European Union Centres Network.

The Minister acknowledged Europe’s knowledge-based economy and cultural and historical significance has a powerful pulling-factor for many New Zealanders.  In the year ending April 2008, around 180,000 New Zealanders travelled to Europe, and the Minister does not deny the importance of this.  "We see New Zealanders abroad as a tremendous resource for us, to which can be added the growing number of European "alumni" who have visited New Zealand as tourists, students, or participants in Working Holiday Schemes."

However, the flow of travellers is not just one-way.  "Too often New Zealander’s use the past-tense to characterise the importance of Europe to New Zealand… Britain is again the largest source of immigration to New Zealand, and our second largest source of visitors.  And the European market does not begin and end in Britain," he said. 

The relationship between Europe and New Zealand has ripened into a balanced, mature, and mutually beneficial partnership, which has only been made possible because each party has similar values and aspirations.

The New Zealand Government is aware it needs to preserve hassle-free admission to the European continent, and vice versa.  The Minister says his government is working to ease the movement of people through the successful Working Holiday Scheme model; currently, the Government is running 15 such schemes in European countries, and has more in the pipeline.  "All have a role in showing Europeans what New Zealand is all about: a country working to contribute to the international community as well as enjoying the fruits of that economy," he said.

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