Why Is New Zealand So Strong?

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, May 25th, 2022 - 36 comments
Categories: economy, Environment, food, Maori Issues, transport, treaty settlements - Tags:

As New Zealand signs up to another alliance to shore up our economic security in the face of fast retreats in economic globalisation, it’s worth taking stock of why New Zealand’s economy is so strong.

As Treasury commentary about this 2022 budget has noted, we have just gone through an economic shock many times worse than the GFC and come out pretty good.

It’s pretty easy to go through what we are bad at and what holds us back. Instead we are going to look at what makes us so strong.

A survey report from MBIE in February this year gives some analysis.

It starts off with the ‘deep roots’ of our advantages:

New Zealand’s comparative strengths often reflect ‘deep roots’ factors. Compared with other countries, New Zealand has strengths and specialisations in research in agriculture and biological sciences, and in products related to agriculture, partly reflecting a climate conducive to agriculture.

Similarly, New Zealand has strengths in tourism, partly reflecting the country’s natural beauty.”

(Just a length warning the report is 70 pages of analysis).

The four sectors of strength for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are: Advanced Transportation, Food and Beverage, Partnering with Maori, Renewable Energy, Tech and Innovation, Tourism, and Wood Processing.

So it’s pretty consistent on the advantages that build what we produce and export well.

But that’s not the whole story to our survival through crises that have hit us about once every two years for the last two decades. Part of the further answer is in our social cohesion and wellbeing.

Self-reported wellbeing among New Zealanders is comparatively high, as are some other measures of wellbeing. This finding is striking in comparison with standard metrics like GDP  per capita for which New Zealand fares less well than many other developed countries. Given that New Zealanders’ wellbeing is the ultimate policy goal, it is important not to lose sight of the factors that likely contribute to this performance.

It hasn’t struck me until this year that we are a nation made of families that are broad and interrelated –  so many family groups have broad Messenger apps that keep us constantly connected. This is an economic power as well as a social power, and it runs deep and long. We house each other, hire each other, invest in each other, and do so with multigenerational intent.

As democracies fade and corrode in many parts of the world, compared with other countries New Zealand has performed consistently well in areas such as fundamental institutions, social capital and trust, and other deep foundational platforms.

Similarly, it will only take a couple of years of Matariki and Maori Language Week revivals to recognise a deep strength emerging from Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Maori culture, tikanga and matauranga, Maori corporate development and entrepreneurship, and the specific values and culture derived from Maori and Pacifika, which are both a social strength and in many respects an economic strength. They are, again, deep and long advantages that aren’t going to shift.

Governments will come and go but it is unlikely that any flavour of them will have much impact on the deep roots of our social and economic advantage. There is a persistence in our strengths.

So while Treasury is warning at Budget 2022 that we are in for further years of extreme volatility in the next few years, it is worth putting trust in this country that we will survive and indeed thrive.

36 comments on “Why Is New Zealand So Strong? ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    NZ has a strong economy – unfortunately, it is constantly white-anted by an Anglophone globalised settler class that dominates the MSM and ruthlessly puts its class interests (one week they are grounded Kiwis locked out of their beloved homeland, next week they are desperate to flee this hellhole for better digs elsewhere but really they just want to do as they please) ahead of those of the country and the bulk of the people in it.

    The media representatives of this class are now tirelessly gas lighting us that the economy is a disaster (i.e. they are over-leveraged on their mortgages and the government is spending money on people who are not them) that "COVID is in the rear view mirror" (that is they've vigorously erased the deaths of the elderly and poor and brown people who are the main victims of covid from the media narrative) that crime is out of control (white person moral panic) and whole cohorts of young people (the well healed kids from nice parts of town) are gagging to get outta dodge.

    It is very difficult to argue that Ngati Pakeha are in partnership with Maori when a fair percentage of Pakeha are quite simply racists with an enormous cultural cringe which means they see the country is an enormous prison, except when they are down on their luck and then it ought to be organised entirely for their benefit until such time as they are back on their feet and they can shit all over the "locals" on the way out the door again.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Three paras of gold plated white guilt cringe. Get over it mate.

      • Sanctuary 1.1.1

        I think you've spent too long amongst the red necks of Oz. Also, don’t call me mate. You don’t have that privilege.

        • RedLogix

          On the contrary – if I look about my office at the moment I am surrounded by more skin colours and cultures that you have probably ever met.

          This red-neck Oz you speak of is probably more multi-cultural and openly diverse than NZ. The whole time I have been here I rarely hear anyone speak in openly racist terms, and such language never gets any traction in the public discourse. Shit this is a country that has comprehensively voted away from that past just this weekend – and still there are far too many kiwis happy to trade on the tired old 'we're morally superior to those bogan ex-convicts over the ditch' meme.

          The sole exception is of course anyone who wants to dump on people with a white skin. Then for some reason it's all good.

          • Mark

            Good comment.

            That's true. As an ethnic Chinese I find Aussies far more relaxed than the average Kiwi, not only in terms of racial matters, but generally more relaxed overall. They are more sure of themselves, and are rarely 'try hards' in the way some Kiwis are.

            Also a lot less road rage.

          • woodart

            aus maybe multi racial but working on sydney construction sites would be an education for you logix. the casual racism is outrageous and would not be tolerated here.maybe you need to get out more.

            • Patricia Bremner

              devilTrue Woodart. My own now Aussie brother wife and family are very bigoted. They have racist names for all other racial groups, and have nothing to do with their gay nephew. They openly said they left NZ because of the Maori. (Probably better for Maori!!)sad

              Some have had difficulties with unvaccinated family falling out with the vaccinated. This is similar, conversations stay in safe territory, though I have let him know privately I am saddened he can not accept our son.

              Red Logix, bigotry is everywhere. Do you visit your work mates homes have meals with them, invite them to share in your occasions?…
              There is a huge difference between work acquaintances and mates. Sanctuary was talking about a bigoted few, who unfortunately loom large on our landscape. Hoskins for one, but there are others as well, who have hugely problematical attitudes. Just recently two people pretended to be two well known Maori, took their names in vain by posting threats to others in their town. It happens and can be very hurtful, especially when it is systemic.

              Most are not like that, thank goodness and the uptake of the Maori language, enthusiasm for all things Maori point to a more inclusive future. Don’t despair Sanctuary.

    • Mike the Lefty 1.2

      Not all pakeha are simple racists, Sanctuary. To blankly say that any non-Maori who doesn't support what Maori are asking for is racist only creates more walls for everyone.

      A lot of it is misinformation, and the MSM certainly should take some blame for this. For example the word "co-governance" has become a catchphrase for some non-Maori elements who believe that whenever Maori want a voice in anything they have an ulterior motive – and that is control – "the Maoris want to control everything".

      Now I don't believe this, but some elements of society do and unfortunately they seem to have a disproportionate amount of power in the public circle and the means to publicise their prejudices and inform the minds of the great unwashed.

      The classic example is Three Waters. If people actually bother to go right through it they find that it has laudable aims. Some small communities have already benefitted from its funding to start smaller scale water and sewerage treatment facilities which would never have been achieved otherwise.

      But political interests that oppose the government have turned it into another racial fight like they did with the foreshore and seabed act a couple of decades ago.

      I believe that some of the problem lies with what Maori and non-Maori define as "ownership". There is obviously a difference – I don't pretend that I understand the Maori perspective much but I do recognise that it is worthy and should not be dismissed out of hand.

      But you have a hard job persuading the diehards who are egged on by ZB Newstalk shock jocks who base their shows on their own ignorance and prejudices.

      How can this be remedied? I don't know but I suspect that if the government stands firm on the Maori Health provider, and Three Waters then people will be able to judge for themselves how it really will work with Maori input.

  2. Reality 2

    Wow! How good it is to read something positive and optimistic. Kiwis seem to expect absolutely everything to be exactly as they want and if they don't get exactly what they want, oh boy, do they whinge and moan. How would they like to live in Ukraine these days, in comparison.

    Thank you Advantage for reminding us the sun can and does shine.

    • mike 2.1

      Hear hear
      We seem to have swapped a pandemic for an epidemic.
      An epidemic of nitpicking, sneering, and moaning banality.

      Our country's good.

      • aj 2.1.1

        An epidemic of nitpicking, sneering, and moaning banality.

        Easy to forget that we fortunately don't have too many like
        Ian Taylor

  3. Hunter Thompson II 3

    Sanctuary – and note I did not call you my mate – you are entitled to your views, but you must realise that not everyone agrees with them.

    Surely the best way to test the strength of your position is to run for political office.

    See what happens then.

  4. Craig H 4

    Even with tourism's status as a pillar of our economy, the economy didn't skip a beat with the loss of international tourism, although obviously that didn't help our foreign exchange earnings. Remarkable stuff really.

    • KJT 4.1

      Shows that the net benefit of tourism was way less than claimed.

      The change in our balance of trade was way less, than if tourism was earning the billions claimed

      Neo-liberals never understand that a ledger has two sides.

      For two years many Aotearoa ans have enjoyed having their country back. COVID hasn't been all bad. Uncrowded tourist spots and more locals with jobs.

      • Poission 4.1.1

        Neo-liberals never understand that a ledger has two sides.

        The other side of ledger was that rather then the OS holiday,the money stayed in NZ,the decreased spend became savings,and NZ households increased their savings by 30 billion mar 2020- mar 2022.

        The increased funds also helped lower interest rates,and meant the banks had the use of liquid assets in nz.

        • Belladonna

          Actually, a heck of a lot of them 'invested' that spare money in housing, either purchase or renovations, contributing to the house-price inflation AND the shortage of builders (and other tradies).

      • Craig H 4.1.2

        Absolutely agree. Different tourism businesses will have gained and lost from the shift to domestic tourism, but the overall impact looks to have been small.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    An ADVANTAGE puff piece par excellence…

    NZ has developed into a “Tale of Two Cities” since Roger’n’Ruth had their way. COVID certainly showed who we really are in ways both magnificent and disappointing.

    Capital, farming and the petit bourgeoisie wailing for two years because they could not do what they wanted when they wanted for once–even a second tier welfare benefit for the poor wee lambs–while the working class kept the basic infrastructure ticking over.

    Agree with KJT @ 4.1.

    • KJT 5.1

      I do agree with Ad about "resiliance" and that it is due to New Zealanders social cohesion and our fundemental ethics of fairness, helping each other and co-operation.

      Even though eroded in recent years, the "essential workers" continued to keep things running, despite all the shite being thrown at them.

  6. Patricia Bremner 6

    The nasty undermining wails of the 1% became obvious as the bulk of the country followed the health edicts, used the Government supports, supported and cheered each other on to weather covid while the 1% cried against lockdowns.

    The internet warriors got busy with their lies, meanwhile 96% of us did not go down the rabbit holes. Vaccination rates showed that. Then the mandated vaccinations caused all the disaffected to join together.

    The intent for some was to overturn vaccine mandates others to bring down this Government. Finding most of the anti sentiment came from 12 voices, showed it was not as general or as widespread as feared.

    Those members of parliament past and present who kept up the cry of hobbits and failure and wrong direction and open up….really undermining what was being done.

    It was all to preserve health, and to keep people employed so meant people and the economy weathered the immediate problems strongly.

    The fallout of too much covid cash chasing fewer assets has meant growing inflation. Though we are told it is internally caused, we see it is world wide.

    The growing overseas political tensions coupled with climate change problems cascading has made people aware of their trade relationships supply lines and loss of crops causing a growing awareness of food shortages based on sunflower oil and wheat, to name a few.

    Basing the Budgets on wellbeing and health has underpinned our success. The pivot towards home has supported many businesses, money staying here instead of going overseas.

    Many have found this a stressful time as inequities are laid bare and although charities have had huge support from Government, real change is still very slow.

    Bolder moves are needed as some conduits of help are not up to the task and a Country wide approach to poverty is needed. All the sticking plasters have been applied, what we need is radical treatments for all the sufferers on a nation wide scale.

    It is possible to tweek capitalism without inviting the cossack dancers of fear again. We need Government building “For rent” @ 25% of the main income, to keep us strong.

    • DanW 6.1

      Couple of points;

      1) Vax rates do not infer acceptance. Many were put between a rock and a hard place.

      2) "The Nasty Underminers" are just as much a part of our community and are equally entitled to their existence and opinion.

      3) Regarding the so called "lies", The governments own statistics (ministry of health website) are now showing that fully vax'd and boostered have equal or higher percentage rates of hospitalisation and death than the un-vax'd group. If the original claims of 95% effectiveness were true, why are we seeing equal or higher rates of cases amongst the vax'd and boostered? Why did the outbreak happen directly after the vax roll out? Why are vax'd even getting sick?

      4) its not only 1% of us who are against lockdowns, the main reason most businesses that I've spoken with complied with mandates etc was to avoid future lockdowns (or to stay open), suggesting the majority of us are against lockdowns.

      5) the intent of the "nasty undermining liars" is likely to ensure we have a future, that is inclusive of all walks of life and opinions (even those as aggressive and condescending as yours), and that we remain free to do our own research, formulate our own opinions and contribute together to build a stronger, more rounded and balanced society as a whole. Enough with this divisiveness.

      If you need a hug, I'm here for you.

      • weka 6.1.1

        The governments own statistics (ministry of health website) are now showing that fully vax'd and boostered have equal or higher percentage rates of hospitalisation and death than the un-vax'd group. If the original claims of 95% effectiveness were true, why are we seeing equal or higher rates of cases amongst the vax'd and boostered? Why did the outbreak happen directly after the vax roll out? Why are vax'd even getting sick?

        Please link to the MoH page that supports what you just said, so that we can know what you are referring to. It's a requirement of this site to provide backup for claims of fact when asked.

        • DanW


          Scroll down to cases by vaccination status section

          Then if you do the math, based on the % of population per vaccination status. I've arrived at;

          52% of the population are boosted, and 60% of new cases in the past 7 days are boosted people and they are 51% of new hospitalisations. There are just 24% of the population left with just two jabs, 25% of new cases are from them, and fully 35% of hospitalisations. Unvax'd make up 7% of the population, but only 2% of the new cases, and 6% of the hospitalisations.

          I find this worrying considering we were told the jab is 95% effective.

          Happy to be proven wrong.

          • KJT

            In the past 7 days?

          • KJT

            Analysis from someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

            Most COVID patients in NZ's Omicron outbreak are vaccinated, but that's no reason to doubt vaccine benefits (theconversation.com)

            "Many cases, probably most cases, are not being diagnosed at the moment. Unvaccinated people will be less likely to get tested, especially in mild cases of the disease, either because of poor access to the health system or because they don’t think COVID is important. We can’t really tell how much bias this introduces into the numbers.

            Hospitalisations and deaths are much more reliably counted than cases. Results from clinical trials and careful population studies of COVID vaccines consistently show the vaccines to be more effective in preventing more serious disease, especially with the new variants. There are plausible biological explanations for this, based on different parts of our immune response."

            A better comparison for assessing vaccine effectiveness is NZ against Hong Kong, where only about half were vaccinated.

      • Incognito 6.1.2

        Luckily for you, weka has already challenged you on your 3rd point, which is just as well because it shows such a high level of profound ignorance.

        As to your 4th point, “suggesting the majority of us are against lockdowns”, that’s a load of bollocks.

        As the success of social distancing is contingent on compliance with government instructions, it was critical that people bought into the task. The “Unite Against COVID-19” campaign helped develop a collective sense of purpose (Duncan, 2020), and public opinion polls consistently showed more than 80% support for the government’s actions including the lockdown (Cooke, 2020; Cooke & Malpass, 2020; Coughlan, 2020; Manhire, 2020).


        • DanW

          Thanks for taking the time to respond.

          3rd point rebutted above , with link and math. Please do the math and let me know if I'm seeing this wrong.

          To suggest any bussiness is happy to close their doors and not trade is "bollocks". I live in the real world and locking healthy people at home in fear of an invisible boggy man is "bollocks", regardless of what any paid off advisor has to say.

          • Incognito

            You haven’t rebutted anything; your math was off and your understanding of the topic is clearly piss poor.

            As to the majority of us being against lockdowns, you have tried to counter the robust evidence provided by shifting the goal posts and you got nowhere, as expected.

            The “invisible boggy man” [sp] tells me that your comments can be dismissed as futile and fantastic. The irony is that you claim to live in the real world.

            I should have challenged you on your 1st point @ 6.1 with stone-cold facts but you would have sunk faster than a former National Minister into a billion dollar hole of his own making.

    • In Vino 6.2
      • 1 Patricia
  7. Stuart Munro 7

    While it is necessary to rebut the habitual sledging of the policyless traditional Right parties, an economy in which worker incomes do not keep pace with the cost of living is certainly not strong from their perspective.

    It's like society has delaminated, and those who work productively get to watch their cheese being drawn away while self-congratulatory civil servants utter Panglossian bromides.

    Dr. Pangloss's comment about, “the best of all possible worlds”, is widely remembered, but what we tend to forget is how unpleasant his world really is. Candide's life is marred by pillage, murder, rape, war, torture and natural disasters. The only relief Voltaire provides Candide after each disaster is a bizzare re-iteration of Pangloss's absurd refrain that, “this must be the best of all possible worlds”. Voltaire's Candide warns us about scholarly self-deception and wishful thinking.

    Panglossian accounting theories: The science of apologising in style – ScienceDirect

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