France–New Zealand relations

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Franco-New Zealand relations
Map indicating locations of France and New Zealand


New Zealand

France–New Zealand relations refers to international relations between New Zealand and France. Relations between France and New Zealand have been rocky at times, but more recently become much closer. Bilateral relations have been good since World War I and World War II, with both countries working extremely closely during either conflicts, but the relationship was severely jeopardised by the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland on 10 July 1985 by French Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) agents.

Relations between the two nations had been strained earlier. On 25 June 1973, the New Zealand government suspended for a time postal relations with France. New Zealand was put under fierce economic strain by France following the attack with French Government demanding the agents who carried out the attack to be released by the New Zealand government. Since then there has been some animosity among New Zealanders towards the French, but since the 20th anniversary of the bombing in 2005, there were signs that New Zealand had begun to warm to the French.[citation needed]

The New Zealand Prime Minister's official visit to France in 2003 opened a new chapter in bilateral relations, moving on from the past and focussing in rekindling both countries' ties, particularly in the South Pacific. With the exception of the transport of nuclear material, major political objectives are being worked-towards within the South Pacific. While the New Zealand Government seeks closer dialogue and cooperation for political and financial reasons, France wishes to encourage the integration of the communities of the Pacific into the New Zealand regional environment.[1]


Relations between France and New Zealand were strained for two short periods in the 1980s and 1990s over the French nuclear tests at Moruroa and the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour. The latter was widely regarded as an act of state terrorism against New Zealand's sovereignty and was ordered by then French President François Mitterrand, although he denied any involvement at the time.[2] These events worked to strengthen New Zealand's resolve to retain its anti-nuclear policy.

But relations had been cordial in the decades prior to the Rainbow Warrior incident, epitomised by New Zealand's swift reaction in both World Wars, siding both times with allied forces.

World War I[edit]

New Zealand infantry in the Battle of the Somme

The New Zealand government entered into the war without hesitation, despite its geographic isolation and small population. In France, the New Zealand Division participated in the Battle of the Somme, where they advanced three kilometres and captured eight kilometres of enemy front line. 7,048 had become casualties, of whom 1,560 were killed. In June 1917, the New Zealand Division further distinguished itself in the storming of Messines ridge and the capture of the village of Messines. During the fighting at Passchendaele in the following October, however, it was bloodily repulsed in its second attack, with 850 dead in exchange for no more than 500 yards of ground gained. This was the first time the division had failed in a major operation and remains the worst disaster in New Zealand's history in terms of lives lost in a single day.

World War II[edit]

New Zealand entered the Second World War by declaring war on Nazi Germany at 9.30 pm 3 September 1939 (NZT). Diplomatically, New Zealand had expressed vocal opposition to fascism in Europe and also to the appeasement of Fascist dictatorships. New Zealand participated heavily in many European campaigns, including the Battle of Greece and the Battle of Crete and especially in the Italian Campaign, and Royal New Zealand Air Force personnel took part in fighting in France during 1940 (as part of the Royal Air Force) and 1944.

Maritime Delimitation Agreement[edit]

The New Zealand–France Maritime Delimitation Agreement was signed on 30 June 2003. As a boundary delimitation agreement, it established the maritime boundary between Tokelau and Wallis and Futuna.

The "FRANZ" agreement[edit]

The FRANZ agreement was signed on 22 December 1992 by dignitaries of France, Australia & New Zealand. It commits its signatories to "exchange information to ensure the best use of their assets and other resources for relief operations after cyclones and other natural disasters in the region". While cyclones remain the chief natural disaster across the South Pacific, FRANZ has in practice been an effective system against the wide range of disasters experienced in the region.

The FRANZ Agreement applies to South Pacific and includes Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, and others decided on a case by case basis.[3]

Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior[edit]

Codenamed Operation Satanic,[4] the Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior took place in New Zealand's Auckland Harbour on 10 July 1985. It was an attack carried out by French DGSE agents aimed at sinking the flagship craft of the Greenpeace Organization to stop her from interfering in a nuclear test by the French Government at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific. Greenpeace was opposed to testing and had planned to lead a flotilla of yachts to the atoll to protest against the test, including an illegal incursion into French military zones. The incident occurred late at night when two agents Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart attached two Limpet mines to the hull of the ship and detonated them 10 minutes apart. The attack resulted in the death of Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira and lead to a huge uproar over the first ever attack on New Zealand Sovereignty. The act sparked one of the most intense police investigations in New Zealand history and eventually led to the capture of both Mafart and Prieur passing themselves off as "Sophie and Alain Turenge." Both pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on 22 November 1985.

France threatened an economic embargo of New Zealand's exports to the European Economic Community if the pair were not immediately released. Such an action would have been crippling to the New Zealand economy which at that time was heavily dependent on agricultural exports to Britain. Operation Satanic was a public relations disaster. New Zealand was an ally of France. France initially denied any involvement, and even joined in condemnation of it as a terrorist act.

This act of state-sponsored terrorism badly strained bilateral relations and in July 1986, a United Nations-sponsored mediation between New Zealand and France resulted in the transfer of the two prisoners to the French Polynesian island of Hao, to serve three years instead, as well as an apology and a NZD 13 million payment from France to New Zealand.


The All Blacks performing a haka prior to a Test match against France in 2006.

The French and New Zealand national rugby union have been playing each other for over a century. Since their first match, in January 1906 in Paris, and January 2008, they have played 46 Test matches. The historic 1906 match, which France lost 38–8, was the first ever French Test but it was not until 1954 (when they won 3–0) that they were able to secure their first win over the New Zealanders.

Then the Second World War intervened, suspending competition. In 1946, France played two matches against the New Zealand Expeditionary Force's Kiwis, losing both matches.

France first toured New Zealand in 1961 – before any of the home nations.[5] – and the All Blacks won all three Tests. Overall the All Blacks have won 34 Tests, France 11, with one drawn.

France and the All Blacks met in the final of the inaugural Rugby World Cup. The tournament was co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia and the final was held at Eden Park. The All Blacks were captained by David Kirk and went on to win their first World Cup 29–9.[6] According to the All Blacks' coach at the time, Brian Lochore, the previous year's loss in Nantes was the catalyst for their World Cup victory.[7] Shelford said of the match "We wanted to play them in the final because we wanted revenge".[8] The match also helped improve the diplomatic and political rift between France and New Zealand caused by the 1985 bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by French Secret Service agents.[9]

The Dave Gallaher Trophy was introduced in 2000 to be contested between the two teams. It was named in memory of All Blacks captain Dave Gallaher who captained the All Blacks against France in 1906 and who died at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.[10] The Cup was first contested on Armistice Day (11 November) 2000. The All Blacks won 39–26 and scored two tries while Andrew Mehrtens scored nine penalties.[11]

France hosted the 2007 World Cup, and the two teams met in the tournament quarter-finals. Despite France hosting the tournament the match was held at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The match was won by France 20–18, and involved several controversial decisions by referee Wayne Barnes,[12] who subsequently received death threats from some New Zealand fans.[13] France scored one try after the sin binning of All Blacks second five-eighth Luke McAlister,[14] and another from a forward pass unseen by the referee.[15] The All Blacks were strongly criticised for not attempted a drop goal in the game's final minutes.[16][17] Their performance was analysed by Palmerston North based company Verusco who had analysed 1,500 games since 2000. They discovered that the All Blacks made 57 tackles to Frances' 269, and they had 66 percent possession and 60 percent territory. The playing time, that is time the ball is in play, was the longest of any game Verusco had ever recorded.[18]

France and New Zealand met in the final of the 2011 World Cup, held in New Zealand. New Zealand won their second World Title 8–7 in a tightly fought battle.

Trade and investment[edit]

New Zealand and France have been very large trading partners in recent years, with France being New Zealand 15th Largest Trading Partner for 2007 with exports totalling NZD$401.3 million (mainly: Sheepmeat, fish fillets, venison and medicaments) and imports totalling NZD$679.6 million (mainly:Motor vehicles, wine and machinery equipment).[citation needed]

France has numerous and some large, investments in the New Zealand economy, particularly in New Zealands wine industry which include Veuve Clicquot, Deutz which is very similar to the wine industry in France. Yoplait is a major company in New Zealand having one of the most well-known yoghurt brands in the New Zealand agri-food sector. Other major French investments have been made in New Zealand's transport and communications sector (Alstom, Alcatel) and waste management (ONYX)[19]

Military co-operation[edit]

There have been various campaigns where New Zealand and France have fought alongside one another, more prominently World War I and World War II.

New Zealand and France also participate regularly in war games, mainly in the Pacific Ocean, off the New Zealand coast. These games also include in Australia. This increase in military cooperation has warmed relations in both nations, with Jeanne d'Arc's, Captain Phillippe Combes saying of the March 2001 exercise: "During the period of the French nuclear tests we were embarrassed to come into this region, but since they have halted we are seen with a more benevolent eye and are welcomed everywhere we go." These games included both RNZN warships and RNZAF warplanes and, in accordance with New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act, French nuclear submarine FNS Perle, highlighting increased military co-operation in the Pacific between the three countries.

Craft involved in the 2001 wargame:

Simulated attacks on the ships were also carried out, in order to test anti-aircraft defence systems, by RNZAF Skyhawks and RAAF Hornets.

Commanding officer of the Vendémiaire Olivier Beauchêne stated: "This is the first time the French Navy takes part in this kind of exercise, and at this level, with Australian and New Zealand armies. This is evidence of the good quality of relations between the three countries." Since the mid-'90s, the armed forces of France, Australia and New Zealand have been co-operating on maritime surveillance of the small island states of the region.[20]

Bilateral representation[edit]

There are many official contacts between New Zealand and the French Republic, which provide the opportunity for high-level discussions and the continued development of bilateral relations. Many ministers meet with their French counterparts at international meetings and events.

French tours by New Zealand delegates and ministers[edit]

New Zealand Ministerial Visits to France

Dates Minister/Delegate Cities visited Reason
April 2011 Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key Official Visit including ANZAC Day commemorations (en route to the wedding of the Prince William and Catherine Middleton)
May 2007 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, and Disarmament and Arms Control, Phil Goff Official Visit
March 2007 Minister of Science, Research and Technology, Steve Maharey Official Visit
November 2006 Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark Official Visit
June 2006 Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters Paris[1] Official Visit
June 2006 Minister of Energy, David Parker Official Visit
May 2006 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, Phil Goff Paris[1] Official Visit
February 2006 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Jim Anderton Official Visit
April – May 2005 Minister for Transport Safety, Assoc Minister of Energy, Harry Duynhoven Official Visit
September 2004 Minister of Energy, RS&T, CRIs, Pete Hodgson Official Visit
September 2004 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Phil Goff Official Visit
June 2004 Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark Official Visit
May 2004 Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton Official Visit
April 2004 Speaker of the House, Jonathan Hunt Led a Parliamentary Delegation to France
June 2003 Minister of Health, Annette King Official Visit
May 2003 Minister of Energy, Pete Hodgson Official Visit
April 2003 Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton
April 2003 Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Marian Hobbs Official Visit
May 2002 Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton Official Visit
May 2001 Minister of Energy, Pete Hodgson Official Visit
May 2001 Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton Official Visit
November 2000 Minister of Sport, Trevor Mallard Official Visit
September 2000 Minister of Finance, Michael Cullen Official Visit
June 2000 Minister for Trade Negotiations, Jim Sutton Official Visit
May 1999 Minister of International Trade, Dr Lockwood Smith
May 1998 Governor-General HE Rt Hon Sir Michael Hardie Boys Official Visit
April 1998 Speaker of the House, Doug Kidd Led a Parliamentary Delegation to France
October 1997 Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jim Bolger Official Visit

New Zealand tours by French delegates[edit]

French delegations to New Zealand

Dates Minister/Delegate Cities visited Reason
August 2014 Member of Parliament representing French citizens domiciled overseas, Thierry Mariani Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Official Visit
March 2007 Minister of Trade, Christine Lagarde Official Visit
May 2006 Vice President National Assembly, Yves Bur Official Visit
April 2006 Minister for Overseas France, François Baroin Official Visit
February 2005 Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Hamlaoui Mékachéra Official Visit
November 2003 Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Renaud Muselier Official Visit
August 2003 Chair of France/NZ Friendship Group in the National Assembly, Philippe Vitel Official Visit
March 2003 Minister for External Trade, François Loos Official Visit
September 2001 Chair of France/NZ Friendship Group in the Senate, Maurice Blin Led a Senate delegation to New Zealand
November/December 2000 Chair of France/NZ Friendship Group in the National Assembly, Gabriel Montcharmont Led a France/NZ friendship group delegation to New Zealand
September 2000 Minister of Agriculture, Jean Glavany Official Visit
June 1999 Secretary of State for Overseas Territories, Jean-Jack Queyranne Official Visit
April 1998 Secretary of State for War Veterans, Jean-Pierre Masseret Official Visit

Resident diplomatic missions[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c France and New Zealand – Political relations – Ministère des Affaires étrangères
  2. ^ Mitterrand ordered bombing of Rainbow Warrior, spy chief says – Times Online
  3. ^ The FRANZ Agreement – France in Papua New Guinea and in the Solomon Islands Archived 14 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Bremner, Charles (11 July 2005). "Mitterrand ordered bombing of Rainbow Warrior, spy chief says". The Times. London. Retrieved 16 November 2006. 
  5. ^ Palenski (2003), pg 51.
  6. ^ "231st All Black Test : 871st All Black Game". Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  7. ^ Smith (2006)
  8. ^ Kayes (2006)
  9. ^ Dine (2001), pg 136.
  10. ^ "Gallaher Cup"
  11. ^ "344th All Black Test"
  12. ^ Gower (2007)
  13. ^ "Death threats outrage refs chief". 8 October 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  14. ^ "World Cup: France shock All Blacks in quarterfinals; England next". 6 October 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  15. ^ Barnes (2007)
  16. ^ "Inquest begins into shock All Blacks exit". 7 October 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2008. 
  17. ^ Rattue (2007)
  18. ^ Lampp (2007)
  19. ^ France – Country Information Paper – NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  20. ^ Alert! NZ / French wargames
  21. ^ Embassy of France in Wellington
  22. ^ Embassy of New Zealand in Paris

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]