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New Zealand - Russia Relations - Page 11
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The recommendations of this report were almost immediately overtaken by events.  The failed coup in Moscow in August 1991 followed by the collapse of the USSR in December 1991 ushered in a period of changes on a global scale.  The economic as well as the political relationships between Russia, the Soviet Union’s successor state (recognised as such by New Zealand in January 1992), and New Zealand were inevitably affected.

Reflecting the uncertainties of change in the former USSR, New Zealand trade with Russia fell dramatically in 1992. Within a year, however, the level of trade had risen significantly.  From the New Zealand perspective, the large debt owed by the USSR to New Zealand for purchases of dairy products and wool became the major problem in the relationship and a great deal of effort was expended, both by the Embassy in Moscow and by officials in Wellington, in order to resolve this issue.

The debt problem did not, however, stand in the way of the development of trade in the new business environment based on normal, free-market commercial relations.  Several representative offices were established by New Zealand companies in response to the new commercial opportunities that they had identified.  The New Zealand Dairy Board established an office in Moscow, and maintained representation also in St Petersburg and Vladivostok.  The New Trade company (a successor to SOVENZ), established offices in Moscow, Khabarovsk and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.  Other companies with long traditions of working with the Soviet Union  also began to re-examine prospects for engagement in the markets of the new Russia.

In March 1993 the New Zealand Prime Minister, Mr Jim Bolger, visited Moscow.  The visit, the first by a New Zealand Prime Minister since 1960, was recognised as a most important event in the development of the bilateral relationship.  Mr Bolger held productive discussions with President B.N. Yel’tsin and Prime Minister V. S.  Chernomyrdin.  The Prime Minister recognised the important role that the new Russia had to play in the Asia/Pacific region and confirmed the potential for the bilateral relationship to develop further in the political and economic areas.


Russia - New Zealand History

Russian knowledge of New Zealand and the Maori dates from the late seventeenth century. New Zealand was the first region of Polynesia of which the Russians had authoritative data, all collected from the Dutch. The Dutch material was complemented in the later eighteenth century by primary accounts of Captain James Cook's several visits to that country and his lengthy stays within Queen Charlotte Sound.
In 1808 and 1814, the first Russian encounters with the Maori took place at Cape Town and Sydney. Though the officers of the Diana and Suvorov found the Maoris from the Bay of Islands (Matara, Ruatara, Hongi Hika, and others) intellectually quick and very friendly, they could not think of them other than as recent and potential cannibals.
The reports of Cook and his associates, published in German, French, and Russian, reinforced this association. Nonetheless, a Russian expedition led by Captain F.F. Bellingshausen paid a visit to Queen Charlotte Sound in 1820, using Cook's charts and accounts. It proved to be most important from the standpoint of ethnology, and was useful for the visitors as well, who were amply supplied with food. Glynn Barratt, Russia and the South Pacific, 1696-1840, Volume 2, University of British Columbia Press, 1988

Stuart Prior, Honorary Consul for Belarus in New Zealand

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