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Map of Canada.
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Winter at Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Canada
Winter at Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Canada

Relationship with New Zealand

New Zealand and Canada have long enjoyed close and friendly relations. Our shared Commonwealth heritage, parliamentary, legal, social and defence traditions, as well as people to people contacts engender a similar world view and we tend to identify with each other’s interests, concerns and values.


Trade and economic links

New Zealand works with Canada in the WTO to further international trade liberalisation and development and to reinforce a sound rules-based system for world trade. Canada and New Zealand are also both members of APEC, promoting regional integration in the Asia Pacific region based on free and open markets. However, Canada’s supply management policies, under which certain agricultural products (notably dairy) receive protection, are of some concern to New Zealand.

In the year ending March 2012, Canada was our 17th largest individual trading partner. Two-way trade was worth over NZ$1.2 billion, with total exports of over NZ$597 million and imports worth over NZ$632 million. New Zealand export figures to Canada may be higher as some products are re-exported to Canada via the United States and not reflected in official statistics. New Zealand exports to Canada consist of mainly beef, sheep meat and wine. Under Canada’s supply management policies, our dairy exports can face high tariffs (250-300%).  Our beef exports are subject to quotas.

Canada is also a high value added market for other New Zealand exports, including specialised manufacturing, ICT, and other food products as well as being a growing market for trade and investment opportunities. Key areas of further opportunity are: health IT; wood/building products; agile technology (ICT, specialised manufacturing, clean technology); specialty food & beverages; and agritech. There is also scope to increase collaboration in research, science and technology in these areas.

New Zealand, together with Australia, has been identified as one of 13 priority markets under Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy. (The other priority markets are ASEAN, Brazil, China, the EU, India, Japan, Korea, Latin America and the Caribbean, Russia, and US/Mexico). Canada’s priority sectors for the NewZealand market are biotechnology, agri-technology, ICT, environmental technology and health industries.

On 20 June 2012, New Zealand Minister of Trade Tim Groser released a statement (available here [http://beehive.govt.nz/release/canada-joins-trans-pacific-partnership-negotiations – external link]), welcoming Canada as a new participant in the negotiations to conclude a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Business links

Canada maintains a Trade Commission Office in Auckland. There is a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise office in Vancouver. In Auckland and Vancouver there is an active Canada New Zealand Business Association; and in 2008 resident New Zealanders formed a Kiwi Expatriates Abroad (KEA) Chapter in Toronto [external links].

There are some Canadian investors in New Zealand, most notably McCain Foods (frozen foods) and communications company Stratos Global Corporation. New Zealand companies in Canada include Tait Electronics, Michael Hill Jeweller, Peace Software Glidepath, Orion, Interhealth, Healthphone, Intuto, Kahui Tautoko Ltd and Gallagher Security Management Systems.

There are New Zealand and Australasian social clubs for expatriate New Zealanders in many of the major cities across Canada including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal, London and Toronto

The 1987 Agreement on Film and Video Relations between the two countries has been successful. Film and television cooperation has been growing, with particular interest in indigenous film linkages and co-productions. There is a recent but ongoing pattern of producers’ missions between Canada, and New Zealand and Australia. New Zealand film 'Whale Rider' won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2002, and nine out of ten top-grossing centres in North America for 'Lord of the Rings' were in Canada.

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People-to-people links

Immigration, education and exchange programmes

The 2006 census of Canada states that the number of New Zealanders currently living permanently in Canada is 10.580. Unofficial estimates are that there are upward of 14,000 New Zealanders in Canada, including those of Canadian/New Zealand citizenship, with most living in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Approximately 20,000 New Zealand tourists visit Canada annually.

There is a regular exchange of teachers with New Zealand organised through provincial authorities (Ontario and British Columbia). Wide ranges of tertiary institutions have relations with counterparts. These include formal university-to-university agreements involving both staff and in some cases the exchange of students for part of their courses. Both countries take a similar approach to marketing education overseas.

A successful bilateral working holiday scheme [external link] has been in existence since 1994. This offers unlimited places to Canadians in New Zealand and allows for 2,000 young New Zealanders to visit and work in Canada for a year.

Sister city relationships

New Zealand and Canada currently have three sister city relationships:


In the year to April 2012 over 49,000 Canadians visited New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand has identified Canada as a market with continuing strong potential. This is supported by a new, more liberal, air services agreement between the two countries signed in July 2009. Air New Zealand now offers five direct flights between Auckland and Vancouver per week during peak season, with plans to add more services as the market recovers.

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Political links

Multilateral links

New Zealand and Canada work together in a number of international forums, particularly in the United Nations where New Zealand, Canada and Australia work together as the CANZ group to deal with issues of relevance to all three countries. New Zealand and Canada also work together in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, APEC, OECD, WTO, and the Cairns Group of agricultural exporters. Canada is also a dialogue partner in the Pacific Islands Forum.

Defence links

New Zealand and Canada enjoy a close and cordial defence relationship. Historically, our two armed forces have worked alongside each other in a number of international security operations. Recent strands to the defence relationship include co-operation in Timor Leste, Bosnia and Afghanistan, exercises and staff exchanges.

New Zealand’s recent contacts and interaction with armed forces include Canada’s contribution in East Timor; the commitment of both countries’ special- forces to Afghanistan; naval cooperation in various deployments in the Gulf; and shared service in various peacekeeping operations around the world. Canada’s traditional defence attachment to NATO has been balanced in recent years by a deepened interest in the Asia Pacific region, evidenced for example by the deployment of its naval assets to the Pacific coast with ship visits into the region including occasionally to New Zealand. These positive and longstanding defence links with Canada have been enhanced by New Zealand’s purchase of 105 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV IIIs) from Canada. The LAV III has a high degree of commonality with the Canadian Army vehicle, and their purchase has increased contacts and interoperability between the two countries’ armed forces, adding a significant dimension to the overall security relationship by broadening defence cooperation. Another Canadian company carried out upgrading work on our C-130s. It has since been bought by a US company and that work is being transferred to the US.

In 2010, reflecting both our common historical heritage and our growing level of defence cooperation, Royal New Zealand Navy ships attended a Fleet Review in Victoria, British Columbia to celebrate the Canadian Navy’s centennial.

Development assistance

The Canadian International Development Agency [external link] operates the Canada Fund for the South Pacific [external link]. It is the only remaining Canadian bilateral development assistance programme in the region. This $900,000 community based programme is operated jointly out of the Canadian High Commissions in Wellington and Canberra. The High Commission in Wellington is responsible for community based projects in the Western South Pacific, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga and Tuvalu.


Recent high level New Zealand visits to Canada

Attorney-General Chris Finlayson visited Ottawa in June 2012 to attend the fourth annual Quintet meeting of Attorneys-General with his counterparts from Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Wales, and the United States.

Minister of Labour, Conservation and Food Safety Kate Wilkinson visited Vancouver in June 2012 for bilateral meetings across the range of her portfolios.

Associate Minister of Housing Tariana Turia visited Vancouver in June 2012 to attend the World Indigenous Housing Conference.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sport and Recreation Murray McCully visited Montreal in May 2012 to attend and chair the board meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Prime Minister John Key visited Ottawa in April 2010 for the first Prime Ministerial visit to Canada in 11 years. He met with his counterpart, Stephen Harper, a number of Cabinet Ministers and influential business leaders.

Minister of Immigration Jonathan Coleman visited Vancouver for the opening of the Winter Olympics in February 2010.

Minister of Defence and Research, Science & Technology Wayne Mapp visited Canada in November 2009 to attend a conference on international security in Halifax, followed by bilateral calls in Ottawa and Toronto.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully visited Ottawa in October 2009 and met with five Canadian Ministers (Foreign Affairs, Defence, International Development, Trade and Minister of State for the Americas).

Minister of Local Government and Regulatory Reform Rodney Hide visited Toronto in September 2009 for discussions with City of Toronto officials.

The Minister of Education, Hon Anne Tolley, visited Calgary and Toronto in August 2009 to attend a Commonwealth Education Ministers Conference and meet with Ontario Education Officials.

Recent high level Canadian visits to New Zealand

Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway Ed Fast visited New Zealand in May 2012. Minister Fast met with his counterpart, Hon Tim Groser, and signed a renewed Double Tax Agreement with Revenue Minister Peter Dunne.

Minister for National Defence Peter Mackay visited New Zealand in September 2011 for bilateral meetings with his counterpart, Dr Wayne Mapp, and the Secretary of Defence.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney visited New Zealand in July 2011 for meetings with Prime Minister Key and members of his Cabinet to discuss shared issues relating to human smuggling and refugees.

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney visited New Zealand in July 2011 for meetings with Prime Minister Key and members of his Cabinet to discuss shared issues relating to human smuggling and refugees.

Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk visited New Zealand in March 2010 for discussions with his NZDF counterparts.

Minister of State for Democratic Reform, Hon Steven Fletcher visited New Zealand in August 2009 to discuss democracy promotion and electoral reform.

In addition to such high level visits, there are regular senior officials’ visits both ways.

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Key facts

Geography and demographics

Land Area - 9,984,670 sq km
Population - 34.77 million (April 2012 est.)
Capital City - Ottawa
Religion - Predominantly Christian, but with significant minorities of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs
Official Languages - English, French
Currency - Canadian dollar (CAD)
Exchange Rate - NZ$1.00 = C$0.78 (5 June 2012)


Political system - Canada is a confederation with a parliamentary democracy.
Federal government - Minority Government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative Party).
Federal legislature - The bicameral Parliament consisting of a 308 member House of Commons elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage and a 105 appointed member Senate members appointed by the Governor General with the advice of the PM.
Last election – 2 May 2011
Head of State - Queen Elizabeth II is represented by the Governor General, His Excellency Mr David Johnston, who was sworn in October 1, 2010.
Head of Government - Prime Minister Stephen Harper (since 6 February 2006).

Key Cabinet Members (as at 25 June 2012):

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canadian Wheat Board

Gerry Ritz

Canadian Heritage
Official Languages

James Moore

Citizenship Immigration and Multiculturalism

Jason Kenney


Peter Kent


Jim Flaherty

Fisheries and Oceans

Atlantic Gateway

Keith Ashfield

Foreign Affairs

John Baird


Leona Aglukkaq

Human Resources and Skills Development

Diane Finley

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

John Duncan


Christian Paradis

Inter-governmental Affairs
President of the Queen’s Privy Council

Peter Penashue

International Cooperation

Bev Oda

International Trade

Asia-Pacific Gateway

Ed Fast

Justice, Attorney General

Rob Nicholson


Lisa Raitt

National Defence

Peter MacKay

National Revenue

Gail Shea

Natural Resources

Joe Oliver

Public Safety

Vic Toews

Public Works & Government Services and Status of Women

Rona Ambrose

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

Denis Lebel

President of the Treasury Board

Tony Clement

Veterans’ Affairs

Steven Blaney

Key Opposition MPs

Thomas Mulcair, Official Opposition Leader and Leader of the New Democratic Party

Daniel Paillé, Leader of Bloc Québecois

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Main political parties

Conservative Party (167 seats - 39.62%)

New Democratic Party (102 seats - 30.62%)
Liberal Party (34 seats - 18.91%)
Bloc Québecois (4 seats – 6.05%)
Green Party (1 seat – 3.91%)

Provincial governments

Canada is comprised of ten provinces (Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador and three territories (North West Territories, Nunavut and Yukon) [external links].

Each province operates a democratically elected Parliament. Provincial elections take place every four years. While not fully autonomous the provinces maintain responsibility for policy development and programme delivery in a number of key areas including healthcare and education.


GDP (expenditure based)
GDP Growth

C$1.737 trillion (2011)
2.4% (2011)
1.2% (May 2012)

GDP by sector (2010)

Services 72%
Industry 26%
Agriculture 2%

GDP per capita

US $40,457 (2011)


C$447.8 billion (2011) (73.7% to the US)

Main exports

Petroleum products, motor vehicles, gold, aircraft, aluminium, coal, fertilizers, lumber and wood products,


All countries C$445.9 billion; from USA C$220.8 billion or 49.53% (2011)

Main imports

Crude oil, motor vehicles, pharmaceuticals,

Net Debt
Net Debt to GDP ratio

C$820 billion (March 2012)
47.2% (March 2012)

Unemployment Rate

7.3% (May 2012)

Source: Statistics Canada.

Trade with New Zealand

New Zealand/Canada top 20 trade figures are available online from Statistics New Zealand at http://www.stats.govt.nz

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Travel advice

The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Canada [external link].

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Page last updated: Monday, 09 December 2013 13:00 NZDT