New Zealand Business Etiquette




”Gidday!” Welcome to New Zealand!

The island country of New Zealand, resting in the Pacific Ocean, may conjure up images of rolling green hills (see photo), mountains, sheep, and Peter Jackson. After all, both Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit trilogy were filmed in the lush New Zealand countryside.

New Zealand leverages its unique size, location, and biodiversity into its business sector; the top industries in the country are agriculture, forestry, and tourism. And we can’t forget about the booming film industry!

Before you bugger off on a business trip to New Zealand, let’s first learn about the dos and don’ts of New Zealand business etiquette!

The Lowdown

  • Polynesians originally settled New Zealand in the 13th century. In 1840, New Zealand became a British colony thanks to the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • New Zealand is composed of two parts – the North Island and the South Island. The capital of New Zealand is Wellington, but the largest city is Auckland.
  • The official language of New Zealand is English, although about 4% of the population does speak Maori. The Maoris are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.
  • New Zealand is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy (their monarch is Elizabeth II of England).
  • New Zealanders are informally called “Kiwis.”

Dressing Sharp

  • In New Zealand, err on the side on formality when dressing for business meetings.
  • Men should wear dark, conservative suits with a white shirt.
  • Women should wear dark, conservative suits (either with pants or a skirt) or a dress.
  • It can be very rainy in New Zealand – so bring appropriate attire, as well as an umbrella.
  • For casual meetings, you should still wear clean, nice clothing in neutral colors.

Make or Break Meetings

  • New Zealanders are friendly, polite, and known to be hospitable.
  • Greetings are casual and informal – a handshake and eye contact will do.
  • Schedule your meetings in advance and arrive on time. If you are late, you may be seen as unreliable or erratic.

Dining Decorum

  • Usually, a meal will be had at a person’s home as opposed to at a restaurant.
  • Talking is done before and after a meal – not during!
  • If the dinner is informal, then table manners will be informal. If the meal is formal, the manners adopted should be more rigid and formal.
  • Do not: put your elbows on the table, open-mouth yawn, chew gum or toothpicks in public.
  • Be on time for meals, and be polite during the meal (avoid flamboyant or loud behavior).
  • Continental table etiquette rules apply in New Zealand.
  • Tipping is not a normal practice.

Giving and Getting Gifts

  • If you are invited into a New Zealander’s home, it is appropriate to give a gift. Acceptable gifts include: chocolate, flowers, liquor, or a gift from your home country.
  • Gifts should not be extravagant.
  • Gifts are usually opened upon receipt.

Down to Business

  • When it comes time for negotiations, have patience and refrain from pressuring the New Zealand party into making a decision.
  • New Zealanders will make a decision based on facts and figures and will usually leave emotion and feelings out of the process.
  • New Zealand business people are frugal and do not haggle in negotiations.
  • New Zealanders respect honesty in business and do not respect bragging or overstating your company’s services or capabilities.

Now that you’re well prepared for your next jet-setting business trip to New Zealand, don’t forget to stay tuned for our next Business Etiquette blurb! 

“See ya later!”