Report gives fresh view of the NZ-India relationship

An Asia New Zealand Foundation report highlights the way New Zealand’s cultural landscape is being enriched by its growing ties with India – and examines the potential for the trade relationship to grow.

A man holding a box of Zespri kiwifruit in a market in India

The Foundation has published the report – India and New Zealand: Growing our connectivity – to coincide with Auckland’s Diwali Festival of Lights this weekend [October 15 and 16] and Wellington’s Diwali festival next weekend [October 23].

Indian immigration to New Zealand dates back to the 19th century, but has diversified and grown substantially in recent decades. In 2016, about 170,000 New Zealanders identify as being of Indian ethnicity – nearly four percent of the population.

“With these demographic changes has come a discernible impact on New Zealand’s own arts, culture, politics and media,” writes report author Graeme Waters, a former New Zealand High Commissioner to India. He points to the Diwali festivals, Indian theatre and comedy, Indian community newspapers and radio stations, MPs of different political parties, and active business chambers.

 “With a workforce estimated to reach 500 million in the next few years, India’s young demographic commands attention,” Waters writes. This contributes to the recent growth in Indian students in New Zealand, with about 29,000 now studying here annually.

India is the world’s fastest-growing large economy. Waters touches on the prospects for an FTA and the potential benefits, and discusses the impact direct flights between New Zealand and India could make in terms of trade and tourist flows. The report includes case studies of New Zealand businesses that are exporting to India or have joint ventures, and looks at potential avenues for growth.

Individuals profiled in the report include Auckland social entrepreneur Ranjna Patel, Wellington’s Rohit Anand (New Zealand country manager for IT firm Tech Mahindra), and Vanisa Dhiru, a leader in the voluntary sector and a member of Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Leadership Network.

Asia New Zealand Foundation executive director Simon Draper says the report highlights the dynamic connections between India and New Zealand. “It challenges the assumption that New Zealanders know India, and goes beyond the usual mantra of cricket and the Commonwealth.”

Mr Draper says the Asia New Zealand Foundation initiated New Zealand’s first public Diwali festivals in Auckland and Wellington in 2002 to give New Zealanders the opportunity to learn more about Indian cultures. “The Foundation supports events like Diwali because our research shows that the more New Zealanders interact with Asian cultures and peoples, the more confident and positive they feel about Asian countries as a whole.

“We also support New Zealanders to gain a better understanding of India through our programmes for artists and journalists, and our work in schools as part of the Diwali festivals.”

Along with India and New Zealand: Growing our Connectivity, Waters has also written India and New Zealand: The Ties that Bind Us, which looks at the historic relationship between the two countries.

Read the reports

Some key points from India and New Zealand: Growing our Connectivity

Nearly 4 percent of the New Zealand population identify themselves as of Indian ethnicity.

  • With these demographic changes has come a discernible impact on New Zealand’s arts, culture, politics and media.

In the past decade, tourist numbers in each direction have more than doubled.

  • In 2015, around 46,000 Indian visitors came to New Zealand, while just over 50,000 New Zealanders visited India.
  • But the projected growth for tourists from China is nearly ten times the figure for India. Would direct flights make a difference?

With a workforce estimated to reach 500 million in the next few years, India’s young demographic demands attention.

  • Since 2010, the number of students travelling from India to New Zealand has increased from just under 12,000 to some 29,000.
  • Indian students account for around a quarter of the total number of international students.

Is there a risk that two good friends could miss out on each other’s party?

  • It’s been six years since the first round of FTA negotiations.
  • New Zealand has little to offer India in terms of tariff reductions – what other cards can we play?

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas - business, arts and culture, education, media and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region. For more information:


Rebecca Palmer
Asia New Zealand Foundation media adviser
027 226 8707

15 October 2016