Ireland set to establish an embassy in New Zealand

The announcement came as President Higgins began his State visit there

Ireland set to establish an embassy in New Zealand

President Michael D Higgins with Patsy Reddy, the Governor-General of New Zealand | Image via @PresidentIRL on Twitter

Updated: 10.35

President Michael D Higgins has announced that Ireland will establish an embassy in New Zealand "shortly".

The announcement came as President and Sabina Higgins met with the Governor General Patsy Reddy and David Gascoigne on the first day of their State

Áras an Uachtaráin says: "The decision to establish an embassy reflects an exceptionally close partnership between Ireland and New Zealand in international affairs,
including at the United Nations."

Ireland is currently represented in New Zealand by the Irish embassy in Canberra, Australia. But we do have an honorary consul based in Auckland.

New Zealand has previously announced plans to open an embassy in Ireland.

In 2015, New Zealand exported NZD$52.1m (€33.8m) worth of goods to Ireland - the top exports were butter and other dairy, along with frozen fish.

While Ireland exported NZD$222.1m (€144.1m) worth of goods to New Zealand - the majority of which was made up of crude oil.

Ireland also welcomed 32,000 tourists from New Zealand in 2015.

An estimated 14,000 Irish-born people live in New Zealand, while approximately one-in-six New Zealanders claim Irish heritage - out of a total population of 4.7 million.

"Rivals on the rugby field"

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says the new embassy will bring to six the number of new missions announced by the Government in recent weeks.

Commenting on the announcement of the embassy in New Zealand, Minister Conveney says: "I'm delighted that President Higgins was able to announce this Government decision in New Zealand today.

"This is an important day for relations between our two countries.

"We are rivals on the rugby field but great friends off it - and that will be true to an even greater extent after today."

New missions announced on Budget Day are an embassy in Santiago, Chile; an embassy in Bogotá, Colombia; an embassy in Amman, Jordan; a consulate-general in Vancouver, Canada; and a consulate-general in Mumbai, India.