The importance of New Zealand's trading relationship with Britain can be seen in these graphs. The first shows the destinations of New Zealand's exports from 1950 to 2008, the second the sources of imports over the same period.
The importance of European countries other than Britain as a source of imports is masked by their inclusion in the 'other' category in the second graph. In the early 1950s the value of imports from Belgium, France and Sweden was highest. By the early 1960s all three had been overtaken by Switzerland, the Netherlands and – in particular – West Germany, which would remain the most significant European source of imports to New Zealand. In 1971 Britain still dominated, sending NZ$310 million worth of goods to New Zealand compared to West Germany's $50 million. By the late 1980s the value of imports from Britain ($962 million) had been overtaken by imports from Europe. The value of goods from Germany alone ($547 million) was more than half that sent by Britain.
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Source: G. T. Bloomfield, New Zealand: a handbook of historical statistics. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1984; New Zealand yearbooks, 1954, 1964, 1974, http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/snapshots-of-nz/digital-yearbook-collection.aspx (last accessed 22 May 2012), and Statistics New Zealand.