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New Zealand Country Report

Country Risk Level

Low

Overview

Executive Summary

There is widespread popular support for the government’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, particularly the role played by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern personally. This is despite the re-introduction of lockdown restrictions in Auckland in August due to a COVID-19 virus community outbreak after they were lifted nationwide in June. Previously, strict lockdown measures imposed at an early stage and high testing rates have been highly effective in controlling the spread of the virus. The government postponed the general election originally scheduled for September to 17 October due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Auckland. However, IHS Markit assesses that this is unlikely to affect the Labour Party’s strong electoral prospects. The opposition National Party is unlikely to recover from a series of resignations and scandals in time to make sufficient gains at the election.New Zealand headed into the COVID-19 virus pandemic with strong economic fundamentals and low government debt. IHS Markit estimates that the economy will contract by 5.5% in real terms during 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic on exports of tourism services and goods, while strict lockdown measures placed a significant drag on the domestic sector.The primary industry accounts for around 7% of New Zealand’s GDP (excluding all farm inputs as intermediate goods). Although the sector will not emerge unscathed from the COVID-19 virus pandemic, exports have been relatively unaffected owing to the improved situation in China and automated handling at US ports. Other sectors of the economy are supported by government stimulus packages, which include wage subsidies.There is a moderate risk of a terrorist attack in New Zealand due to right-wing and jihadist militancy. The small-arms attack on two Christchurch mosques by a right-wing militant in March 2019 was exceptional, and the government has so far proved successful in preventing copycat attacks. Any future terrorist attacks are likely to be low-capability.

Operational Outlook

The government welcomes foreign investment, and the operational environment is conducive to business. Overall, industrial disputes have fallen dramatically from the highs of the 1980s. However, the Labour government is increasing regulation in industrial relations and housing, and industrial action has surged under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, particularly in the public sector. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus pandemic has resulted in a decline in labour protests in the first half of 2020 but these are likely to regain their upward trend ahead of elections in September.

Terrorism

Low

The small-arms attack on two Christchurch mosques by a right-wing militant in March 2019, in which 50 people were killed, was exceptional for New Zealand. The government has so far proven successful in preventing copycat attacks, notably through the passing of legislation banning semi-automatic rifles in April 2019. In the low-likelihood event of future right-wing attacks, these would most likely target mosques or Muslim individuals, while potential jihadist-inspired reprisal attacks would likely target churches or public spaces in Auckland, Wellington, or Christchurch. In both cases, attacks would be of low capability and would aim to cause civilian casualties.

Crime

Low

New Zealand’s crime rates are very low, and its police force is well trained. In 2018 the homicide rate was 1, lower than the OECD average of 2.4 per 100,000 inhabitants and representing a consistent improvement since 2010. Extortion and kidnapping are rare and tend not to affect foreigners. However, organised crime, such as the trafficking of drugs, people, and weapons, is a concern in Auckland, New Zealand’s main import-export gateway. Gangs like the Mongrel Mob, Nomads, and Black Power operate in some cities and rural areas, although these groups are in decline, and police actively monitor and disrupt their activities.

War Risks

The risk of interstate war involving New Zealand is low, although regional geopolitical shifts have caused new disruptions in the Indo-Pacific. Relations with China have deteriorated over allegations of espionage by Beijing and the government’s decision to ban Chinese participation in 5G infrastructure, but this is unlikely to escalate beyond a diplomatic dispute. Although New Zealand faces no current external security threats, in the event that one arises the country could call on the support of Australia and the United States. New Zealand’s strong stance on illegal fishing and whaling in the Antarctic is unlikely to cause maritime confrontations with illegal fishing vessels.

Social Stability

Protests occur frequently but are usually small and non-violent, mainly relating to environmental, social, or labour issues, such as wages. The scale and frequency of protest events are likely to gradually return to pre-pandemic levels now that COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings have been lifted. Protests will probably occur in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch in the lead-up to national elections on 19 September, when New Zealanders calculate that the government would be more likely to make concessions.

Health Risk

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Natural Risks

As alluded to above, the principal risks facing visitors to New Zealand are natural disasters.

The archipelago is situated in a very active seismic zone and earthquakes are concentrated along a fault line that runs through both North Island and South Island, passing through Wellington.

On average, six significant earthquakes are registered each year. On September 4, 2010, one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the country (magnitude 7.1) struck the Christchurch area (New Zealand’s second-largest city), causing significant material damages and pushing local authorities to issue a state of emergency that lasted for over a week. One year later, on February 22, 2011, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed 185 people and devastated Christchurch.

On November 14, 2016, southern parts of the island were hit by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake, hours after a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake had killed two people in the Christchurch region. A tsunami warning was subsequently issued but no major incidents followed.

Furthermore, the central and eastern regions of North Island are vulnerable to volcanic activity. Eruptions, like that of Mount Tongariro on August 7, 2012, can cause disruptions to air traffic (ash emitted into the atmosphere affected several dozen domestic flights). On December 12, 2012, local authorities increased the Volcanic Alert Level on White Island to 2 (minor eruptive activity).

While hiking in this mountainous country, certain precautions should be taken (ensure you have proper equipment and training, pay close attention to weather forecasts, etc.). Be sure to inform friends or colleagues of your excursion and the exact route you plan to take.

On June 24, 2013, a winter storm (southern hemisphere) wreaked havoc on Wellington (South Island), affecting transportation and the electric grid.

Practical Information

Climate

New Zealand has a humid and windy oceanic climate with light breezes in the summer and strong winds in the winder. The country regularly receives rain throughout the year and the annual average temperature is 23°C. The western coast of South Island receives more rain than the eastern coast and temperatures on the island range between 19°C in the summer to 9°C in the winter. Both of the country's main islands receive snow in the winter. Weather conditions can often change rapidly within the same day.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +64
Police: 111
Fire Dept.: 111
Ambulance: 111

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal