Story: Latin America and New Zealand

Increasing numbers of New Zealand tourists are being drawn to Latin America by experiences such as Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival and visits to ancient Incan cities. New Zealand’s diplomatic and economic relationship with the region has expanded in recent years.

Story by Warwick E. Murray
Main image: The All Blacks play rugby against the Pumas, 2011

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Latin America includes South America, Central America and Mexico.

Diplomatic relations

New Zealand began diplomatic relations with countries in the region after the Second World War. New Zealand has few embassies in the region and not many Latin American counties have embassies in New Zealand. New Zealand had difficult relationships with Chile when it was ruled by a dictatorship (1973–90), and with Argentina when it was at war with the UK over the Falkland Islands in the 1980s.


In the 1970s and 1980s political refugees came to New Zealand from some Latin American countries to escape brutal governments. In the 1990s there was a second wave of migration for economic reasons. Some younger people come to New Zealand on working holidays.

Trade and investment

In the 2000s the New Zealand government launched a strategy to encourage trade with Latin America. Trade was limited but growing, especially in agricultural products. Some New Zealand agricultural firms have investments in South America, particularly in the dairy industry.

Cultural relations

Latin American embassies work to promote their countries’ culture in New Zealand. Events and organisations promoting Latin American culture include film festivals, a radio station and cultural groups.

New Zealand plays regular rugby tests against Argentina.

New Zealand universities have ties with their Latin American counterparts and there are some student exchanges.

Latin America is an increasingly popular destination for New Zealand tourists, and the number of Latin Americans visiting New Zealand is also increasing.

How to cite this page:

Warwick E. Murray, 'Latin America and New Zealand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 February 2024)

Story by Warwick E. Murray, published 20 Jun 2012