New Zealand–South Africa relations

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New Zealand–South Africa relations
Map indicating locations of New Zealand and South Africa

New Zealand

South Africa

New Zealand–South Africa relations refers to the diplomatic relations between New Zealand and South Africa. Both nations are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations.

It is estimated that as of 2006 around 41,676 South Africans resided in New Zealand.[1]


Memorial to the Second Boer War in Oamaru, New Zealand

Both nations are historically linked through the British Empire. Although there was very little contact between both territories at the time; between 1899-1902, New Zealand contributed over 6,000 soldiers to fight alongside the British during the Second Boer War to fight against primarily Afrikaans-speaking settlers of the Transvaal Republic and Orange Free State.[2] Approximately 230 New Zealanders lost their lives in the war which resulted in a British win over the whole of South Africa.[2]

During World War I and World War II; soldiers from both New Zealand and South Africa fought alongside each other in Europe and North Africa.[3][4] South Africa obtained its independence from Great Britain in 1934 while New Zealand obtained its independence in 1947.[5]

After World War II, South Africa adopted the policy of apartheid against the majority black South African population. New Zealand maintained diplomatic relations with the nation until controversy erupted during the 1981 South Africa rugby union tour of New Zealand which led to mass protest against the South African government's policy on apartheid.[6] In 1984, New Zealand severed diplomatic relations with South Africa.[7] This followed the election of the Labour government of David Lange, which pledged to close the South African consulate in Wellington.[8][9]

After the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and progress on the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa came to fruition; New Zealand re-established diplomatic relations with South Africa on 19 January 1994.[7] In May 1994, New Zealand Prime Minister Jim Bolger attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela.[10] In 1995, South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup and the last game was between New Zealand and South Africa; which deepened the relationship between both fans and politicians of both nations. In November that same year, President Nelson Mandela paid an official visit to New Zealand.[11] In 1996 New Zealand opened a high commission in Pretoria and South Africa followed suit by opening a high commission in Wellington in 2009.[12]


In 2013, South Africa was New Zealand's 33rd most important trading partner.[13] That same year, two-way trade between both nations amounted NZ$411 million.[13] Some of the products that both nations trade between each other include: automobiles, medical supplies, aircraft, machinery, transmission equipment, metals, carpets, paper, cosmetics, dairy, seafood, wine, fruit and industrial chemicals.[13]

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How many South Africans have left the country?". Politics Web. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b South African 'Boer' War: New Zealand and the South African War
  3. ^ Experiences of colonial troops: World War I
  4. ^ World War II People's War: Commonwealth and Allied Forces
  5. ^ The British Empire: Entering and Exiting the Empire
  6. ^ 1981 Springbok tour: A country divided
  7. ^ a b Picketing the South African consulate, 1977, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
  8. ^ Kiwis to give South Africans the boot, New Straits Times, July 17, 1984
  9. ^ Dancing on Our Bones: New Zealand, South Africa, Rugby and Racism, Trevor Lawson Richards, Bridget Williams Books, 1999, page 234
  10. ^ Former PM farewells Mandela
  11. ^ Nelson Mandela's visit to New Zealand
  12. ^ New Zealand and South Africa: General
  13. ^ a b c New Zealand and South Africa: Trade
  14. ^ High Commission of New Zealand in Pretoria
  15. ^ High Commission of South Africa in Wellington