Overseas Business Risk New Zealand

Overseas Business Risk – New Zealand

Information on key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in New Zealand.

Political and Economic

New Zealand poses very little risk to the visiting business person in the political and economic arenas. New Zealand is the least corrupt country in which to conduct business (2012 Corruption Perceptions Index).

New Zealand is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the Queen of New Zealand. Elections are held every three years under a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system. The New Zealand National Party is the largest partner in the National-led Government and is lead by current Party Leader and Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key. The Opposition is the New Zealand Labour Party led by David Cunliffe.

New Zealand has a mixed economy which operates on free market principles. It has sizeable manufacturing and service sectors complementing a highly efficient agricultural sector. Exports of goods and services account for around one third of real expenditure GDP.

New Zealand’s economy and political overviews can be read in the Doing Business in New Zealand guide.

More information on political risk, including political demonstrations is available in FCO Travel Advice.

Human Rights

The Human Rights Commission of New Zealand conducted a full report in 2010 – “Human Rights in New Zealand” and found that New Zealand continues to meet human rights standards. It also identified thirty priority areas where further action is essential to strengthen human rights protections.

There are two main pieces of law in New Zealand that specifically promote and protect human rights. One is the Human Rights Act 1993, and the other is the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

In respect of human rights and the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand today, there are legislative mechanisms in place to protect the principles of the Treaty and the rights of Mäori as Indigenous people. In practice, the level of recognition and protection varies. There has been significant progress in hearing and settling Treaty claims, revitalising te reo Mäori and establishing whänau-centred initiatives, particularly in health and education.

Bribery and Corruption

Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world.

In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

New Zealand was voted least corrupt country (joint first with Denmark and Finland) in which to conduct business in the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Visit the Business Anti-Corruption portalpage providing advice and guidance about corruption and some basic effective procedures you can establish to protect your company from them.

Read the information provided on our Bribery and corruption page.

Terrorism Threat

There is a low threat of terrorism in New Zealand. However, there is a global risk of terrorism from which New Zealand is not exempt.

Read the information provided on our Terrorism threat page.

Protective Security Advice

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructurealso provides protective security advice to businesses

Read the information provided on our Protective security advice page.

Intellectual Property

Manufacturers and traders are strongly advised to patent their inventions and register their trademarks in New Zealand. Patent and trademark law is briefly described below, but it must be noted that such law is subject to change. The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is the government agency responsible for dealing both with patent applications and the registration of trademarks. For more detailed and up-to-date information about patents and trademarks visit the IPONZ website.


To be patentable, an invention must meet certain criteria relating to novelty, inventiveness and utility.

As listed on the IPONZ site inventions must:

  • Be industrially applicable, that is, be able to be made or used in some kind of industry

  • Contain an inventive step that is non-obvious. The invention cannot already be known, or be two or more products or processes put together with ne new or improved effect

  • Be new or novel. If the invention has already been used, displayed or otherwise made available in New Zealand, been described in any public document (for example, an overseas patent document available in New Zealand, a scientific journal or similar) it will not normally be patentable

The grant of a patent for an invention provides the owner with a right to exclude others from making, using or selling the patented invention during the term of the patent. In return the owner must make public a complete description of the invention.

A patent will last for twenty years from the date that the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand receives a complete application provided that the renewal fees are paid at the end of the fourth, seventh, tenth and thirteenth years of the patent’s existence. This patent will only protect your invention within New Zealand. Associated fees are listed on the IPONZ site.

New Zealand is party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property which entitles residents of other treaty countries to a one year priority right for patents.


In New Zealand protection is provided to registered trademarks through the Trade Marks Act 2002. According to this act any sign capable of being represented graphically and distinguishing the goods and services of one person from those of another can be registered as a trademark.

Once a trademark is registered the owner has the exclusive right to use that trademark for a period of ten years from the date the IPONZ receives the application and registration is renewable for further periods of ten years thereafter. As with patents, a New Zealand registered trademark will only receive protection in New Zealand.

Trademark applications can be lodged online at www.iponz.govt.nz/cms.

Note, where a trade mark is, or appears to be, a derivative of a Maori sign, the application will be forwarded to the Maori Marks Advisory Committee. The Committee will advise IPONZ whether the mark is likely to be offensive to Maori.


New Zealand’s Copyright Act 1994 and Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Act 2008 protects the same wide range of copyright works as are protected by UK copyright legislation. As both countries are party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Rights, the works of UK nationals and works published in the UK are entitled to the same protection as New Zealand grants its nationals. Although not legally required, it is a good idea to include a copyright statement of notice on a work. Visit www.iponz.govt.nzfor further information.

Read the information provided on our Intellectual Property page.

Organised Crime

There are some instances of street crime in urban areas. Thefts can occur in major tourist areas especially from camper vans, unattended vehicles or tourist accommodation. It is advised never to leave items of value in unattended vehicles.

Read the information provided on our Organised crime page.

More information is available on overseas business risk in a range of markets.

UK Trade & Investment Contact:


Countries: New Zealand
Topics: Insurance & Risk
Export Action Plan