This week’s business culture interview is about New Zealand. While New Zealand shares some cultural traits of its neighbor, Australia, this country is definitely unique and important in up-and-coming industries such as outdoor gear and high technology. New Zealand is an island nation that is always ready to stand up to international challenge. There are approximately 4 million Kiwis (New Zealanders) with a very diverse cultural make up, including citizens of European, Maori, Asian, and Pacific Island decent. The Auckland metropolitan area has two-thirds of the country’s population. New Zealand is also considered the Polynesian capital of the Pacific. Here is what International Business Development Consultant; Ray Underell had to say about his native culture:


What do you see as unique cultural characteristics of New Zealander’s that are reflected in New Zealand’s business culture?

New Zealanders share a similar mindset and character to our Australian friends and neighbors yet enjoy their distinction as being more conservative and perhaps even shy. That is of course until they are demonstrating their renowned capacity in the International Sports arena. Check out Rugby World Cup 2011, and or America’s Cup sailing. In New Zealand, the same competitive resilience and independent thought holds true in business culture and in particular their robust appetite for international trade. For instance, in 1984 New Zealand refused entry to the nation’s ports to American nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships. This was to demonstrate that New Zealand was against the use of nuclear materials and the country was dutifully punished by the United States with trade restrictions. As a result, New Zealand was forced to quickly establish other export markets that included Asia. The New Zealanders tend to be internationally minded and a well-traveled society with approximately 3/4 million Kiwis living abroad.


In your opinion, what are New Zealand’s most competitive industries in world markets?

Recognized internationally, the New Zealand wine industry has expanded significantly over the past 20 years. Grape producing area has tripled from just 10,197 hectares in 2000 to 33,428 hectares in 2010. Vineyards now cover more than twice the surface area of any other horticultural crop in New Zealand. Reflecting the industry’s reputation as a provider of super-premium cool climate wines, exports have jumped from just US $88 million in 2000 to US $788 million in 2010. While the sector is still dominated by small wineries and relatively small growers, there has been a significant amount of international investment. The six largest companies account for approximately 55% of total wine production and 19% of total grape production.

New Zealand is strong in the agriculture, horticulture, forestry, fisheries, wood and paper products industries. New Zealand is also renowned for biotech research & development, particularly as it relates to agriculture.

What’s the best way to find potential New Zealand business contacts?

Making business contacts in New Zealand does not require an intermediary like it would in many other countries. Here are several organizations and website which can help you find business contacts in your industry:

What do you wish people knew about doing business in New Zealand before they arrive in country?

  • If you are traveling across the International dateline, try a night time flight so you can get a good sleep during your flight. You might otherwise suffer time loss in adjustment and lose a productive day’s business.
  • The majority of New Zealanders are approachable and extremely helpful/friendly assisting with directions.
  • New Zealanders are known for their humour!
  • Respectful straight-forward communications from the beginning of any business negotiations is essential.
  • Researching organizations is mostly
  • Companies and Trade associations ‘industry specific’ are an easy search via

From your perspective, what’s the business climate like for entrepreneurs in New Zealand (supportive vs. unsupported, culturally accepted profession vs. not accepted, etc.)?

I think that New Zealand business culture is extremely supportive of entrepreneurship. This is a leading base for tax revenues. But it is challenging for entrepreneurs in early stages especially for those without capital- just as it is in other countries.


About Ray Underell

Ray Underell

Ray Underell is from Auckland, New Zealand. Born with an entrepreneurial and competitive spirit, his first sales and marketing position was working for New Zealand’s first pirate radio station, known as Radio Hauraki. “We broke the NZBC Broadcasting monopoly — the backbone of NZ radio at that time”. Ray sold advertising and promoted Shopping Centre shows.

At age 21 he arrived in London England and worked as an Insurance Agent for an American insurance company, CICA. During his 3 years he was a top producer in London. Ray traveled extensively from Moscow to Turkey and Morocco during that time. He immigrated to the US and received US citizenship in 1980. Ray has lived in Denver & San Diego since.

Ray owned and operated several businesses, particularly in the telecommunications industry. He is currently consulting with business alliances, strategic partnerships and new business development. He seeks opportunities both nationally and internationally. Ray particularly likes working with start-ups. He adds extra value from his experiences in the bio-tech research, technologies alliances & investments; as well as oil & gas partnering and investments. Ray helps with American EB-5 investment; and commercial real estate and land opportunities. He can also provide corporate mentoring and guidance for foreign companies entering USA. Ray can be reached via Linkedin, Facebook and email: [email protected].