New Zealand is an island country located in the south-western Pacific Ocean. It is around 900 miles east of Australia and was one of the last lands to be settled by humans, due to its remoteness. It is well known for its distinctive fauna, varied topography and mountain peaks. There are strong environmental beliefs throughout New Zealand; natives are very keen to preserve the country’s natural features and beauty. The society is very egalitarian, with few formal structures.


You shouldn’t presume a relationship with anyone by appearing too forward or friendly. New Zealanders can be reserved around those they don’t know – gradually they will warm to you and become friendly and outgoing. Trying too hard should be avoided; let relationships develop naturally. Personal virtues such as politeness and respect will go a long way, so do be aware of how you act. Senses of humour are highly valued in New Zealand, as is honest and direct conversation.

Business structures

New Zealand facts
Ethnic groups: 67.6 percent European, 14.6 percent Maori, 9.2 percent Asian, 6.9 percent Pacific, 11.1 percent New Zealander, 1 percent other

Language: English (spoken by 98 percent of population), Maori (4.1 percent), New Zealand Sign Language (0.6 percent)

Capital: Wellington

Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)

National holidays: New Year’s Day (January 1), Day after New Year’s Day (January 2), Waitangi Day (February 6), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day (April 25), Queen’s birthday (first Monday in June), Labour Day (fourth Monday in October), Christmas Day (December 25), Boxing Day (December 26), each provinces also celebrates a Provincial Anniversary Day

Business hours: Monday – Friday 8:30am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 12:30pm

New Zealand is an egalitarian society, and wealth and social status are not important to New Zealanders, who are more likely to judge on traits such as respect, politeness and friendliness. As such there are a number of family-owned businesses in the country with informal power structures. Show respect to all members of staff as they may be related to the owner, but try to speak to the owner as decision-making power will still likely rest with them.

Multi-national and bigger companies are likely to follow traditionally Western business structures, with centralised decision-making power. Try to speak to the right person for the job – and respect the authority of senior managers – when negotiating or trying to arrange a meeting or appointment.


Appointments and meetings will need to be scheduled; avoid scheduling them less than a week in advance as this could be seen as disrespectful. Also bear in mind that it will be harder to arrange meetings in December and January as these are the summer months in New Zealand – senior managers are likely to be on holiday with their families.

Punctuality is important in New Zealand so make sure you arrive on time or slightly early for meetings. Lateness may be interpreted as unreliability, which could ruin your chances of making progress with a business relationship.

Although meetings are informal, they are taken seriously. There will be a little small talk before things get down to business but it won’t feature prominently.

Do not make grandiose claims that you can’t back up, as people from New Zealand do not respond well to inflated claims and hyperbole. Maintain a professional air, keep eye contact and respect other peoples’ personal space.

Team work

Team work can be difficult when participants do not know each other as New Zealanders can be reserved around strangers. However, politeness and respect are freely give and so teams are likely to immediately form a cordial working relationship if not a close-knit one. In time, if relationships are allowed to prosper, teams will become far more effective as participants become more comfortable in each other’s presence.


Business dress is conservative but New Zealanders have a casual approach; it’s perfectly acceptable to roll up your sleeves or take off your jacket. If you are socialising after work or outside of meetings then there is no need to dress conservatively.