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Laura Clarke

British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Samoa, Governor of the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands.

Part of UK in New Zealand

23rd January 2018 Wellington, New Zealand

The UK and New Zealand: Old Friends, New Prospects

The connections between the UK and New Zealand are many and strong.  It is a friendship built on a shared history, on family, sporting and cultural links, and on the rich exchange of goods and ideas.   We have a similar sense of humour, a similar spirit of adventure, similar tastes.  You drink our Scotch; we drink your Pinot Noir.  You send us Flight of the Conchords and Lorde; we send you Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa (both touring NZ in March).   Despite the miles and the jetlag, we feel instantly at home in each other’s countries, sipping a flat white or English breakfast tea.

The vibrancy and energy of the relationship comes both from our shared past, as well as from our shared values and shared vision for the future.  Both NZ and the UK are innovative, outward looking countries committed to delivering greater prosperity and security, at home and abroad.

As I take up the role as British High Commissioner, I see three priorities for our cooperation in the months and years ahead.

First, we need to continue to boost two-way trade and investment and work together to pave the way for a UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement, post-Brexit.   The British Government is clear that New Zealand is a priority country for a future FTA.

Second, we need to work ever more closely in the international arena. Together we must continue to champion free trade in the WTO. We must work with Five Eyes Partners to enhance cybersecurity and combat the threats posed by terrorism and hostile states. And we must build and sustain a global commitment to tackle climate change, and protect wildlife and natural resources: the taonga of our land and seas.

Third, we need to build on our vibrant exchange on domestic policy, learning from each other to deliver better outcomes for our citizens.  New Zealand can learn from the UK’s climate change legislation as it seeks to become zero-carbon by 2050; while the UK, in preparing for its future outside the EU, has much to learn from NZ’s experience as an independent trading nation and its success in agricultural reform.

Ours is a modern, forward looking partnership, underpinned by the multiple and varied links between our countries.  We have so much in common, and there is so much that we can achieve together.  Naku te rourou, nāu te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi.

I can’t wait to get started.

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About Laura Clarke

HE Laura Clarke is the British High Commissioner to New Zealand and Governor of the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands.