New Zealand business etiquette

The do’s and don’ts

New Zealand business etiquette

Conducting business in a foreign country can be daunting at first. Make sure you are aware of local business etiquette so you don't embarrass yourself or your company.

New Zealanders can be somewhat reserved, especially with people they do not know. Once they develop a personal relationship, they are very friendly, outgoing and social. Expect to receive respect from people and try to focus on being honest, direct, and demonstrating a sense of humour. Locals will trust you until they are given a reason not to.

Business Meeting Etiquette 

  • Schedule appointments ahead of time. Plans should be made at least one week in advance by telephone, fax or email. It is generally easier to schedule meetings with senior level managers if you are coming from another country. Note that it can be difficult to schedule meetings in December and January since these are the prime months for summer vacation.
  • Arrive at meetings on time or even a few minutes early and expect a brief amount of small talk before getting down to the matter at hand. If you do not arrive on time, your behaviour may be interpreted as indicating that you are unreliable or that you think your time is more important than the person with whom you are meeting.
  • Present your business case with facts and figures. Emotions and feelings are not important in the New Zealand business climate.
  • Maintain eye contact and keep a few feet of personal space.
  • Meetings are generally serious events, though have a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Don’t exaggerate claims or use hyperboles. If you make a presentation, avoid hype. New Zealanders are interested in what people 'can do' not what they say they can do.

Negotiations in New Zealand

  • Don’t be in a hurry. The negotiating process takes time.
  • Don’t attempt high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Start your negotiations with a realistic figure. It is not a bargaining culture and New Zealanders do not expect to haggle over the price.
  • Be direct and expect the same in return. Kiwis appreciate brevity and are not impressed by more detail than is required.
  • Agreements and proposals must state all points clearly. All terms and conditions should be explained in detail.

Gift Giving

Gifts aren’t generally exchanged in business situations. If invited over to someone’s home it is polite to bring a small gift such as chocolate, wine, or pastries.

Titles and Business Cards

Most people will want to interact on a first name basis as quickly as possible. It's best to begin addressing people using, Mr., Mrs. or Miss, followed by the full name or surname. Follow the lead of your host regarding how and when they use first names. There is no specific protocol surrounding the giving and receiving of business cards.

Further reading

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