It was a story of separation and betrayal, and of a long-distance relationship that went sour.
It’s not a cliffhanger of Shortland Street, New Zealand’s longest-running TV soap Opera, but a real-life story of abandonment.
It happened in January 1973, the South Pacific nation, when the UK joined the European economic community (EEC), the forerunner of today’s European Union.
At the time, about half of the Kiwi fruit exports were delivered, of 18,500 km (11,500 miles) , the United Kingdom, but access to these markets would be appreciated to effectively end as a result of British accession to the EEC.
“It was a massive shock. It was an emotional shock for new Zealand,” says Asha Sundaram, University of Auckland.
“Almost 50% of new Zealand’s exports went to the UK in the time, and so there was a huge fear about what would happen.
“In essence, new Zealand was like an Outpost of the United Kingdom [at the time]. It was the parent-child relationship, and I think people were simply cut off, only a terrible fear of the apron strings.
“I think it was probably in a state of panic.”
In 1973, a colour TV was blasted intensified in Kiwi living room for the first time (in time for another Royal wedding of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips), while Wellington was against French nuclear tests in the region.
The British experiments, a part of the EEC was a long time coming, but when it finally happened, there’s a feeling in new Zealand, the sold out was from an old friend.
“I think there was a feeling of betrayal, especially in older new Zealanders,” says Stephen Jacobi, Executive Director of the New Zealand International Business Forum.
“I was born in the UK, so that my family emigrated from the UK to new Zealand. It is hard to think of Britain as a foreign country.
“We have been so designed that farm for the UK. That was our justification for the existence of the world as it was.”
Faster 45 years and the Kiwi lead-the economy has changed.
Free trade agreements with Australia, China (2008) and others have been critical. The courageous reforms, which opened at the beginning of the 1980s, a ramshackle “fortress economy”, that was very well protected.
“New Zealand was the first country to a high-quality free-trade deal with China”, says Catherine Beard, Director of Export NZ, a lobby and advocacy group.
“We have a really principled approach, we reduced all rates in new Zealand many years ago, we have no subsidies.
“And we have not any kind of smoke and mirrors, the support for domestic companies, and those who have survived, thrived.
“Our industry is really amazingly robust, and so our farmers are, because they have always had to be competitive in the world, without support.”
Agriculture is important in new Zealand because forestry and fisheries are, together with the service sector, tourism and education.
As a British EU-exit is closer, there are important lessons for the United Kingdom in its former colony, the economic revival? New Zealand trip, which was since the early 1970s, in turbulent times and difficult decisions were made along the way.
A nimble, creative and diversified economy is key, as is the desire to find new markets.
In a highly competitive world, Kiwi exporters need to always be on top of their game, says Peter Busfield, who represents the marine industry.
“We are a long, long way from any of the markets, we really are goes to the end of the no-exit road as far as the world,” he says.
“We have to go out and represent us to the various markets and have met a value proposition that the customers more than the purchase of your next door neighboring country.
“So new Zealand has always, to break perfectly, in every market.”Global Trade
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Today, there are in Australia buys more Kiwi exports than any other, while in China, the new Zealand overseas makes up about 20% of trade. The UK, meanwhile, only 3%, the value of 1.6 billion new Zealand dollars (1.1 bn; £830m).
New Zealand’s exports to the UK largely meat, fruits and drinks include, and there is an appetite for a new Zealand-UK free trade agreement.
“In the UK is an important trading is not a…partner for new Zealand, it is still a very important investment-partners”, says Mr. Jacobi.
“The UK is the third largest investor in new Zealand after the USA and Australia, so the relationship is still very significant. What we have now, perhaps, this is an opportunity to bring it up to date and place it more into the 21st Century.”
Four-and-a-half decades after a nasty divorce in the UK reached new Zealand. The irony in this volte-face ” is not lost on many of the Kiwis, but you can find some in here that still hold a grudge.
A NZ-UK trade deal is exit to be a priority for the post-the British Council-the UK, according to Theresa May the government. As it looks for new partners, a far-away friend, it is scorned, in the past, might be able to help it to embrace the challenges of the future.