A Taste of Switzerland bonds the new New Zealand-Swiss Parliamentary Friendship Group

Tuesday, 16.04.2013 – Tuesday, 16.04.2013

The Ambassador of Switzerland, Dr. Marion Weichelt, welcomed the 26 members of the new parliamentary friendship group over a truly Swiss delicatessen of specialty wines, cheeses and other delectables at the New Zealand parliament buildings on April 16, 2013. The friendship group is co-chaired by Dr. Cam Calder (National) and the Hon. Maryan Street (Labour).

The friendship group was created on the occasion of 50 years diplomatic relations between Switzerland and New Zealand. “The excellent relationship between the two countries goes back much further, though.” explained the Ambassador and mentioned that the first Swiss consulate was opened in Auckland in 1912.

Today, there are over 7,000 Swiss living in New Zealand, many of whom have also become New Zealand citizens. There are a number of outstanding Swiss and New Zealanders with strong connections to each other’s countries, some who are household names and world title holders. For example, shot putter Valerie Adams trains in Switzerland and Oceania Footballer of the Century, Wynton Rufer lived and played in Switzerland for seven years.

“Swiss love to visit New Zealand.” said the Ambassador. “On a per capita basis, there are two and a half times more Swiss tourists coming to New Zealand than from Germany or Italy and two times as many as come from France.” These numbers may surprise a lot of people.

In addition, this love for New Zealand is reflected in Swiss investment. “Switzerland constantly ranks among the top ten investors in New Zealand. There are around 45 Swiss companies creating about 5,000 jobs, mainly for skilled workers.” informed the Ambassador.

Both New Zealand and Switzerland are multicultural countries. The Ambassador mentioned the four official languages in Switzerland and in effect, the four different cultures. New Zealand has three official languages (including sign language) and a wealth of cultures as well. Yet this is not the only common feature. “Both Switzerland and New Zealand are small countries, and as small countries with limited political influence the rule of law is very important, as small countries cannot engage in power play.” said the Ambassador. Both countries share the same values and work together in a number of areas. The Swiss Embassy in Wellington looks forward to strengthening this relationship in years to come through the parliamentary friendship group.