The special relationship between New Zealand and Samoa is underpinned by the 1962 Treaty of Friendship, concluded when Samoa became independent after a period of New Zealand trusteeship from 1919 to 1962. The relationship is rich and multi-stranded, with close links between New Zealand and Samoa supported by the large number of New Zealanders of Samoan descent or origin living in New Zealand. An estimated 131,100 Samoans now live in New Zealand, making up around 50% of this country’s Pacific Island population (2006 census). The arts and culture of Samoan New Zealanders have become a distinctive voice and contributor to New Zealand society. Some thirty New Zealand government agencies have active links with Samoa.
Samoa is New Zealand’s 42nd largest export market and 92nd import. This reflects that New Zealand is not a major destination for Samoa’s products, but is Samoa’s main source of imports. Samoa has a constant trade imbalance with all countries, offset by remittances and tourism. Tourism is Samoa’s largest export, with New Zealand forming 40% of its tourist market. The recent launch of the Auckland-based New Zealand Samoa Trade and Investment Commission reflects the Samoan Government’s determination to expand and diversify its exports to New Zealand.
New Zealand’s annual development assistance to Samoa is approximately NZ$22 million, made up of a NZ$17m bilateral allocation plus approximately NZ$5 million delivered to Samoa via New Zealand’s support for regional initiatives. New Zealand and Samoa recently agreed a new Joint Commitment for Development reflecting an increased focus on sustainable economic development, including through tourism, private sector enabling environment, infrastructure, agriculture and energy. It also seeks to respond to Samoa’s request for budget support, possibly for education, in return for better results.