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There were positive developments, too, in the fishing sector.  New Zealand companies that had cooperated with Soviet Far East fishing bases operating under licence in New Zealand’s 200-mile EEZ, moved on to make independent arrangements for using Soviet fishing vessels under charter or joint venture agreements.  This further assisted the development of the New Zealand deep-water fishing industry, including, in time, the participation of New Zealand Maori in the industry (through links with the business interests of the South Island Ngai Tahu tribe).

Reflecting the growing significance of the USSR as a market for New Zealand produce, the pace of political contacts quickened.  The Minister of Overseas Trade, Mr Mike Moore, led a business delegation to Russia in 1986.  The Minister of Recreation and Sport, Mr Peter Tapsell, visited in 1988.  That same year a New Zealand Parliamentary delegation, led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Kerry Burke and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Geoffrey Palmer, also visited.  Mr Palmer’s visit was particularly significant because it recognised the advantageous trading relationship and included stopovers in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, the latter still a closed city at that time.

The cultural side of the relationship began to grow in the 1980s.  Several Soviet and Russian academics visited New Zealand.  Their visits helped scholars and students in New Zealand and, through them, the general public, to increase their understanding of Russia.

Although the changes of the “perestroika” era began to affect commercial relationships in the late 1980s (for example through shortages of hard currency and problems with payment for New Zealand goods supplied) New Zealand continued to recognise the long-term potential for the New Zealand/Soviet trade relationship.  In 1991 the New Zealand Trade Development Board and the Ministry of External Relations and Trade commissioned a trade survey under the Government’s International Economic and Trade Initiative.  The survey was undertaken by Stuart Prior (current Ambassador to Russia). The first part of this survey was completed in May and June 1991 and its findings and recommendations were published on 31 July 1991. (Doing Business in the Post-Revolutionary Soviet Union:  A Strategy for New Zealand.  External Assessments Bureau, Prime Minister’s Department, Wellington).



 

Russia - New Zealand History

Lieut. -Colonel H. C. Barclay, M.D., of Timaru, writing to the Christchurch Sun, says: — Arriving in Petrograd, after a tedious 22 days journey from Japan, I was anxious to waste no time, but to get to the front. At that time no reverses had be fallen the English or French troops, and the idea of my commission leading to an appointment in England among the army that was to be recruited had not occurred to me, and so I promptly offered myself as an army surgeon to the Russians, and was accepted as an operating surgeon, though of the language I knew nothing. Still, if they were game to take me, I was game to go. During the ten days of waiting I had some interesting, if not exciting, personal expediences. I had the honor of being, presented to the Empress - that is, the Dowager Empress, the mother of the present Tsar. It was at one of the summer palaces on the island of the Neva, on the borders of Petrograd. After some formal introduction to a baroness and one of the Princesses, the Empress came in. She was attired in black with a plain white collar and a pearl necklace, her hair dressed in ordinary English fashion. There was no difficulty in seeing at once the likeness to Queen Alexandra, whose sister she is, but she was not as tall, nor as impressive in appearanpe as I understand the late Queen of England to be. She was exceedingly gracious in manner and in speech, and spoke English like an English lady would. Among other things, she expressed her pleasure at seeing an Englishman with her troops, and when she spoke of  the Anglo-Russian alliance, the emotion behind the words was plainly visible to me. A TALISMAN. When I said  that while with her countrymen I hoped to do my duty faithfully and well she slipped a little present into my hand, saying, -"Keep this for my sake, and may it protect you." Then her Majesty looked me very straight in the face and paused - her eyes were moist “Thank God for the English alliance," – she said and raising her hand to my lips I kissed it, bowed, and she passed out. It needed no keen observer to be aware of the feeling at the back of words in themselves so simple. Needless, to say, the little gift was of the nature of an amulet, a religious token to be worn round the neck. Of her interest in my reasons for being in Russia at the time, and of her questions about New Zealand and Australia I need not write. Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLI, Issue 13570, 23 December 1914, Page 2

Stuart Prior, Honorary Consul for Belarus in New Zealand

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