3 Tips for Business Etiquette in New Zealand
Look at any international competitiveness index, livability score, expat satisfaction survey or other metric and you'll quickly find that New Zealand ranks among the best places for expats anywhere in the world - especially for English speakers.
For decades, the country has been a financial hub in the Pacific, with the “Big 4” accounting firms and mid-tier groups all having a strong presence, and its thriving tourism sector attracts seasonal and part-time workers from all over the world.
Still, despite the widespread opportunity for work and new business there are a few things that those traveling there should know about New Zealand customs and culture.
1. Be Genuine
While Kiwis certainly have a more relaxed approach to business than other English-speaking developed economies, this doesn't mean you should be overly casual during a business meeting. You'll want to avoid being especially outgoing early in the meeting. As time passes, there will undoubtedly be more room for humor and less formal business talk.
This can be attributed to Kiwis' appreciation for authenticity and honesty. Similar to the U.K., people in New Zealand tend to be matter of fact, which can be off-putting if you aren’t prepared for it. However, there's no need to worry. They are simply trying to get to know you better, so the partnership will be based on a genuine relationship, as opposed to fake formalities.
According to international expat resource Kwintessential, knowing this can also help immensely during negotiations. By being genuine and setting realistic goals or proposals, you are much more likely to close deals with New Zealanders. Conversely, if you offer the world, an unrealistic return on investment or use hyperbolic language, you could not only lose the interest of your potential business partner, but also their respect - and that's a difficult cut to suture.
2. Understand the Native Culture
It would also be beneficial for you to take time to learn about the Maori - New Zealand's indigenous peoples. This group has a profound impact on New Zealand customs and culture, even more so than its British ancestors.
The Maori are extremely conscious of protecting their land and waters. If any business dealings concern physical expansion - into a potential Maori territory, for example - all meetings should be conducted using the proper etiquette and due respect.
The Maori culture is prevalent in every area of the country, so learning more about it could help you be perceived as an expat who is eager to be a part New Zealand's lifestyle in addition to its economy.
3. Schedule your Meetings Around their Calendar
Keep in mind that New Zealand lies low in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning its seasons are opposite of those in countries in the Northern Hemisphere. This has a direct effect on when you should schedule your meetings.
Unlike in the U.S., businesses in New Zealand often take very long summer breaks in December and January. It's not uncommon to see professional services operations shut down for weeks at a time, especially over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. If possible, it is best to avoid trying to set up a meeting during this period. Business will pick back up in February, and there will be "time to get back to work" mentality throughout the country, making this an ideal time to meet.
With a little reading, it's easy to see why so many people are flocking to the country and enjoying New Zealand customs and culture. However, the island has its share of dangers, too, ranging from earthquakes and tsunamis to tropical storms and flooding. To protect your family and employees, you should look into international liability insurance or international property insurance.
Want to learn more about business etiquette? Find out about business etiquette in Australia.
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