New Zealand Embassy in Manila Commemorates Waitangi Day – A Symbol of Unity and Cultural Diversity

MAKATI, PHILIPPINES – On 6 February, the New Zealand Embassy in Manila proudly commemorated Waitangi Day, a significant moment in New Zealand’s history.

It marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – a place in the north of the North Island – on 6 February 1840 – 184 years ago. This treaty, signed between the indigenous Māori people and the British Crown, is considered to be New Zealand’s founding document.

Ambassador Peter Kell, along with esteemed guests from several Philippine Government agencies, members of the diplomatic corps, development and other partners, and community members, gathered at Fairmont Makati for a well-attended reception to honour and commemorate Waitangi Day.

The event was an opportunity to reflect on and attest to the strong bilateral relations between New Zealand and the Philippines, fostering understanding, and partnership.

During the commemoration ceremony, Ambassador Kell highlighted that Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to its relationship with the Philippines, and that this commitment was founded on the principles that Waitangi Day seek to represent – unity, equality, and mutual respect among all peoples in New Zealand.

The event featured two Waiata (Māori song) performances: Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi (Come Together as One), presented by the New Zealand Embassy team led by Deputy Head of Mission Mr. Tim Given and supported by Ambassador Kell on the guitar after his remarks. Following Māori protocol,the Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Affairs Undersecretary Jesus “Gary” Domingo, representing the Philippine Government and guests, delivered a response and joined the Embassy team in singing Pokarekare Ana (Stormy are the waters).

In his address, Ambassador Kell stated, “It is a chance for all peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand to reflect on the journey that we have taken as a nation since that day 184 years ago. The challenges. The opportunities. The mis-steps. The strides forward. In short, the good, the bad, the ugly. It is also an opportunity for us to reflect on relations between the Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand – two partners that share not only a history of diplomatic relations but also a commitment to building bridges of friendship and understanding. Our cooperation spans various sectors, including trade, education, development, and defence. Our official figures suggest the Filipino community in New Zealand is around 100,000 or roughly 1.5% of the total New Zealand population. Once again, I wish to thank you Philippines for sharing your talent with us. Sa mga mamamayan ng Pilipinas, taos-puso akong nagpapasalamat sa inyong kabutihang loob.”

In his remarks, Undersecretary Domingo said, “I am happy that the 100,000-strong Filipino community in New Zealand continues to contribute significantly to the economic growth and progress of your country. We thank you for welcoming them and treating them as your own, and considering them part of your whanau (family).

Ambassador Kell also took the opportunity to refer to his departure in a month or so, thanking in Filipino the Philippine Government and the people of the Philippines for their warm welcome, hospitality, and friendship extended to him and his family during his time in the Philippines.

Ambassador Kell said, “I save the last word in Filipino for the Filipino people: Sa mga mamamayan ng Pilipinas, nakatayo sa inyong harapan ang inyong abang lingkod upang lalo pang palakasin ang ugnayan ng New Zealand at Pilipinas. Sa nakalipas na apat na taon ko dito sa Pilipinas, naramdaman ko ang mainit na pagtanggap sa akin. Nakita ko ang kagandahan ng yamang lupa at dagat ng Pilipinas, kagandahan ng wikang pambansa, at ang kabutihang loob ng mga Pilipino – grabe, sagad to the bones!

Sa tuwing tinatanong ako ng aking mga katrabaho, para kanino ka bumabangon? Lagi kong sinasabi, syempre, para sa inyong lahat a. Hiram lang ang buhay natin, dapat punuin natin ito ng saya. Muli, umaasa akong magkikita kita din tayo ulit. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Aotearoa New Zealand!”

The New Zealand Embassy looks forward to continuing to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between New Zealand and the Philippines, building on the shared values and common goals that unite the two nations.


More information on New Zealand – Philippine Relations

Trade and economic relations

New Zealand and the Philippines have a thriving trade relationship, which has only grown stronger in recent years. Our bilateral trade has witnessed an upward trajectory, and we are committed to expanding our economic collaboration. As of June 2023, New Zealand exported NZD 1 billion of total goods and services to the Philippines and imported NZD 0.36 billion, for a total trade value of NZD 1.36 billion. Dairy remains New Zealand’s biggest export commodity to the Philippines, while travel is its biggest export service. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) Philippines has experienced a surge in interest from New Zealand companies in the information and technology, manufacturing, and food and beverage sectors looking to set up back offices in the Philippines. We are continuously working to explore trade, investment, and joint ventures in sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy, highlighting our mutual interest in sustainable development.

People-to-people exchanges

Our nations have embraced a rich tradition of cultural exchanges, educational partnerships, and various people-to-people initiatives. These initiatives have enriched our societies by fostering a deeper understanding of each other’s culture and values. Filipinos now comprise the third largest Asian population in New Zealand and Kiwinoys (Filipino Kiwis) account for more than 1.5 percent of our total population. With a 100,000-strong Filipino population in New Zealand, we are committed to continuing and enhancing these exchanges, ensuring our people benefit from the diverse experiences and perspectives we offer. We in New Zealand are grateful for the contribution that Philippine companies and talent make to our economy and society.

Defense and security cooperation

New Zealand and the Philippines have collaborated extensively in defence and security. We have signed an updated defence cooperation arrangement in November 2017 which provides for enhanced defence cooperation in the areas of logistics and defence industry. Since 1989, more than 114 Filipino officers have undertaken training in New Zealand as annually, an officer from the Armed Forces of the Philippines attends our Staff College. The recent goodwill visit of HMNZS AOTEAROA on Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, 2023 underscores our commitment to regional security and stability. We are discussing ways to strengthen defence collaboration, including capacity-building programs.

Ease of Doing Business (EODB)

Leveraging New Zealand’s leading position in the Ease of Doing Business Index, we have collaborated over the past few years with Philippine government agencies to support them in enhancing and streamlining processes. We signed in 2021 a Memorandum of Arrangement with the Anti-Red Tape Authority to promote the ease of doing business and public sector efficiency. That arrangement has provided the framework for ongoing discussions and collaboration with various Philippine national government agencies. We have also worked with local government units such as Valenzuela City and Quezon City.

Development cooperation

Development cooperation has been an important part of our partnership. New Zealand has a long-standing development program in the Philippines, with a focus on supporting sustainable development and enhancing the lives of Filipino communities. Our development investments in the Philippines focus on agriculture, knowledge and skills, and disaster risk management. We continue to work closely with the Philippine government to address critical development challenges. New Zealand development cooperation actively supports the Bangsamoro Peace Process, working closely with former combatants and also indigenous and Muslim communities.