New Zealand's Ambassador to Argentina Raylene Liufalani writes for the Times about a bright future for New Zealand-Argentine relations.
New Zealand is well-known for its agriculture, beautiful landscapes and vibrant Maori culture. Our national brand is synonymous with the All Blacks and their success on and off the field. We are known for our friendliness and integrity, and have a reputation for doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching.
These conclusions are not wrong. New Zealand is a sizeable food provider and agriculture is a key driver for the New Zealand economy. We export nearly 80 percent of what we produce to feed approximately 40 million people – almost 10 times New Zealand’s population. New Zealand is a popular tourist destination with 3.8 million people visiting New Zealand from around the world every year. Tourism and dairy are New Zealand’s highest export earners. The relationship between the Crown and Maori – New Zealand’s indigenous people – is built on a foundation of mutual respect. Maori are a significant force in New Zealand across all aspects, including commercially. The Maori economy is worth around NZD50 billion.
New Zealanders live the way we play rugby. We strive for excellence, and use competition and innovation to drive success. We have a deep connection with our land, family and ancestors. Rugby epitomises so much of what New Zealanders hold dear.
But New Zealand has so much more to offer. It is ethnically diverse – 15 percent identify as Maori, 11 percent as Asian and eight percent of Pacific heritage. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is home to more than 200 different ethnicities. New Zealand has strong economic, trade and people-to-people links in the Asia-Pacific. We are creative idea-makers, unbound by convention. We work with others to find innovative and creative solutions. It is a legacy of our historical geographic isolation, small size and recognition that we need to embrace new technologies and work together if we want to be successful.
It is part of our DNA and manifests in all aspects of New Zealand life.
Historic successes include Bill Gallagher (Senior) inventing the world’s first electric fence for livestock management, commercialising kiwifruit and developing whole milk powders. In the 1950s and 1960s, New Zealand pharmacist Colin Murdoch invented the disposable hypodermic syringe, the tranquiliser gun, the silent burglar and fire alarm and the child-proof medicine bottle cap.
More recently, we have recently joined a small group of space-faring nations using disruptive, innovative technologies to tackle some of our planet’s biggest challenges and create new and exciting opportunities for economic growth. Rocket Lab broke new ground last year when its Electron rocket, launched from New Zealand, reached space. It was the first orbitalclass rocket launched from a private site in the world.
Technology is New Zealand’s fastest- growing sector and the highest per-capita earning industry in New Zealand. MediTech, FinTech and DigiTech are star performers. Interactive video game development is New Zealand’s fastest-growing creative industry and tech export sector. New Zealand has more game developers per capita than any country in the world. New Zealand is a recognised leader in film production and an international centre of excellence where some of the world’s most talented producers, directors and creators of special effects choose to work.
With this in mind, New Zealand and Argentina have much in common and much to celebrate. We are both southern hemisphere countries. Agriculture is at the heart of our economies. We enjoy shared values: democracy, human rights, the importance of family and friends. We are active on global issues and work together to find global solutions. We share the philosophy that open markets, democratic institutions and transparency are the path towards prosperity for our citizens. There is a natural affinity between our people that is hard to find elsewhere in Latin America.
Air New Zealand’s direct flight between Auckland and Buenos Aires has been a game changer for the relationship. The positive impact on our respective tourism industries is obvious – Argentina is the largest source of tourists to New Zealand from Latin America. Over 15,000 Argentines travelled to New Zealand in the past year. And more New Zealanders are travelling to Argentina to experience Argentina’s vibrant culture and wonderful countryside.
For many years, New Zealand has welcomed young Argentines under the successful Working Holiday Scheme. These youths – 1,000 each year – have made valuable contributions to the communities they have visited. We want to see more young New Zealanders travelling to Argentina to increase New Zealand’s knowledge and understanding of Latin America. After many years of looking west to Asia, New Zealand is now looking east to Latin America.
Sporting links create strong, lasting bonds between us. The annual All Blacks and Pumas match is a highlight on the sporting calendar and our shared love of rugby is clear. Hockey links, particularly between the Black Sticks and Las Leonas, are also thriving. New Zealand and Argentina will be formidable competitors when Argentina hosts the Youth Olympics this year and the Under-20 Rugby World Cup in 2019.
New Zealand and Argentina enjoy a warm and positive connection based on shared values. The future is bright for the relationship between our two countries.
By Raylene Liufalani
New Zealand Ambassador to Argentina