Prior Group - Russia - New Zealand - Новая Зеландия - Россия

New Zealand - Russia Relations - Page 9
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Even while political relations had been cool, the economic relationship continued to develop.  The most notable feature during the 1980s was the diversification New Zealand companies were able to bring to the trading relationship.  With the restoration of the full diplomatic relationship, cooperation expanded. In 1986 the establishment of the New Zealand-Soviet Business Council brought together government, trade and other organisations and individuals with an interest in seeing commercial contacts flourish between New Zealand and Russia.

In 1987 the SOVENZ Company was established with a representation in Moscow, the only New Zealand-owned trading office in the Soviet Union.  The Company’s goal was to develop and consolidate trade between New Zealand and the Soviet Union.  At the time it was among the very few Western companies involved in joint venture enterprises with the USSR.  In addition to handling the sales of dairy products by the New Zealand Dairy Board to the USSR, the SOVENZ Moscow office also acted as the representation of the New Zealand Trade Development Board, the New Zealand Government’s trade promotion and development agency.  The company frequently organised visits to New Zealand by Soviet delegations, particularly from those regions where SOVENZ was most involved in joint regional economic development projects.

Within the USSR, SOVENZ engaged in a wide range of trading activities from selling New Zealand butter to importing Stolichnaya vodka to New Zealand, to installing fishmeal processing plants on Soviet trawlers.  Its diverse activities shared a common objective of furthering sales of New Zealand dairy products in the USSR through developing a positive trade relationship with the USSR that was of benefit to both countries.  A number of New Zealand companies became involved under the SOVENZ aegis in joint ventures in freight, in peat moss and in deer velvet production.  In the late 1980s, thanks to the work of SOVENZ, New Zealanders built small meat and dairy processing plants and cool stores in areas such as the Altai, the southern Urals and the Russian Far East.


Russia - New Zealand History

Every day that we were there the Zealanders would arrive at our sloops at about 10 in the morning and would remain until evening. Having traded their goods they would have lunch with us. They ate our dry bread, peas, kasha and sugar with real appetite. They did not like our salt beef at all and were not great fans of the pork, nor were they able to drink our rum and wine. From time to time they would help our sailors in their work, for which the hardest workers would be rewarded with nails. Sometimes, making merry, they would give us the pleasure of watching their dances and listening to their songs. For this, about 15 men would stand in a single line. One of them, stamping his foot, would begin to sing. In mid-verse there would suddenly be a common, quite quick and wild shout, then they would lift their arms up, extend them, and let them fall, while strongly stamping their feet, distorting their whole bodies and making fierce faces. They would finish this song by going down on one knee and making a frightful, lingering laugh. Our sailors adopted their dance and song very well indeed, and on our sloop at the South Pole where the daily dangers depressed the spirit, they would sometimes cheer everybody up with their imitation (of the haka - translated by Prior Group). N.Galkin, surgeon on board the Russian vessel “Mirny” (Peaceful), during their stay in New Zealand, Queen Charlotte Sound, Russian Expedition, 1820

Stuart Prior, Honorary Consul for Belarus in New Zealand

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