Bulletin

An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

The Singapore-New Zealand relationship

The Republic of Singapore, a tiny island-state in Southeast Asia, is one of New Zealand's closest friends. Both nations enjoy strong trade, military and people-to-people links. Most recently, New Zealand Defence Minister Mark Mitchell announced the Republic of Singapore Air Force would be conducting a training exercise hosted by the Royal NZ Air Force in Manawatu. Here are some interesting things to know about Singapore and its relationship with New Zealand. 

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Singapore CBD

1. It's known as the Lion City

Singapore is an anglicisation of the Malay word "Singapura", which means "lion city". According to a 15th-century literary text, a Javanese prince was said to have discovered the island and named it as such after seeing a "lion". Singapore is also referred to as the "Little Red Dot".

2. NZ and Singapore are longtime friends

Singapore is one of New Zealand’s closest defence partners in the Asia-Pacific, and our ninth largest trading partner. New Zealand’s free-trade agreement with Singapore – the ANZSCEP, signed by former prime ministers Helen Clark and Goh Chok Tong in 2000 – is one of our most comprehensive. Both nations are members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the world’s second-oldest military partnership. On 2 August, NZ Defence Minister Mark Mitchell announced the Republic of Singapore Air Force would be conducting a training exercise hosted by the Royal NZ Air Force at the Ohakea Air Force base from 30 August to 25 September.

3. We have each other’s backs

Singapore Civil Defence Force, Christchurch earthquake 2011

The Singapore and New Zealand armed forces train together regularly, in a decades-long defence partnership that began when Kiwi aviators defended Singapore in WWII. When the devastating earthquake rocked Christchurch in 2011, Singapore Air Force personnel training in the South Island immediately assisted in search-and-rescue efforts for missing Kiwis, as did members of the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

4. Singapore is 400 times smaller than NZ, but has more people

The Little Red Dot has a land area of 719kmsq, which makes it virtually the same size as Aoraki Mount Cook National Park (707kmsq). It takes about half an hour to drive from the east to the west end of Singapore, barring any traffic. However, Singapore's population of 5.7 million people outnumbers New Zealand's by 1 million.

5. Singaporeans love visiting New Zealand

The fresh air, open space and natural beauty of Aotearoa are major attractions for urban-dwelling Singaporeans. There's been a steady increase in the number of visitors from Singapore over the past five years: About 58,000 Singaporeans came here in the past year ending June 2017 – up 53 percent from 37,700 in 2013. And about half of Singaporean visitors love it here so much they are repeat visitors.

6. Kiwis love going to sunny Singapore too

Tourist in infinity pool, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore

Over the past five years, Singapore has received an average of 122,000 New Zealand visitors annually. The Lion City's tropical weather is likely to be a draw during winter, with July being the most popular month of travel for Kiwis. The gamut of shopping, entertainment, nightlife and affordable food options also makes Singapore one of New Zealanders' favourite holiday spots.

7. Kids in NZ and Singapore enjoy good education

Old Government House, University of Auckland

Singapore and New Zealand schoolchildren perform above the OECD average in reading, mathematics and science. Eight of New Zealand’s universities rank in the top 3 percent of tertiary institutions in the world, while the latest QS World University Rankings list rates Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore ahead of varsities such as Yale and King’s College London.

8. Both nations are cultural melting pots

According to census data, New Zealand is home to more ethnicities than there are countries in the world. It is also linguistically diverse – some 160 languages are spoken in Aotearoa. In cosmopolitan Singapore, multiculturalism is celebrated – a value reflected in its rich array of food, languages spoken, places of worship, media programmes, and shops. The Lion City's four official languages are English, the lingua franca, as well as Malay, Tamil and Mandarin. The nation's diversity is also reflected in its list of annual statutory holidays, which include significant cultural or religious dates such as the first two days of Chinese New Year, Diwali, Hari Raya Puasa (Eid Festival) and Christmas. 

9. Cars in Singapore can cost up to three times NZ's median income

MRT, public transport in Singapore

Singapore has the highest car prices in the world, owing to a tax imposed by the authorities to prevent gridlock in the tiny island. For instance, a new Toyota Prius Hybrid would set someone back about S$131,000 (NZ$131,500) as of June 2017. That amount can get you four used Priuses in New Zealand. The 2016 median annual income in New Zealand was about $50,000, according to Careers NZ.

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3 August 2017