Brexit led New Zealand to finally open embassy here

Bruce Simpson performs a traditional ritual with Laura Swift from Palmerston North, New Zealand, living in Drumcondra, Dublin, and Janay Rotorua, from Tauri, New Zealand, living in Cabra, Dublin, and NZ Ambassador Brad Burgess

Allison Bray

The haunting wail of a shell trumpet filled the corridors of New Zealand's first Irish embassy as it officially opened in Dublin last night.

Members of the London-based Maori culture group, Ngati Ranana, took part in a traditional blessing ceremony before staff move into the new premises on Merrion Row.

After walking through the building and touching the walls as part of the blessing, the sacred pounamu, or God Stone of the indigenous Maori people, was unveiled.

There were traditional prayers and singing of the hymn How Great Thou Art in the Maori tongue.

New Zealand's Ambassador to Ireland, Brad Burgess, said he was honoured to open the country's first-ever embassy here.

"It's been a long time coming that New Zealand finally has an embassy here," he said.

Winston Peters

Pointing to the pounamu, or jade stone, he said: "This creates a real sense of home here in Dublin. We really look forward to moving in here."


Meanwhile, Winston Peters, deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister, said Ireland and New Zealand have so much in common, including a similar population and shared cultural ties as well as the Irish diaspora in New Zealand who represent one out of every six New Zealanders.

"We've been big fans of the Irish for a long time and we have a similar sense of humour and a similar sense of justified defiance, so we should get along just fine," he said.

"The closing song they finished with is a blend of cultures but it's also in regard to the ancient nature of the Irish society itself," he added.

But the main catalyst for opening the embassy in Ireland was Brexit, he said.

"The moment the Brexit decision happened on June 23, 2016, it became very clear that, with respect to Ireland, we would have to set up an embassy here.

"It was one of the first decisions we made, that we could no longer think of servicing out of London which was what happened in the past," he said.

"As you know Brexit is a slow process, so in a way we're getting ready early," he said.

He also envisioned a strengthening of economic and other ties between the two countries in the future.


"We need to have a close relationship with Ireland and vice-versa," he said.

"Ireland is stretching its reach offshore.

"It has always been a country that's seriously understood the importance of domestic plus diplomatic relations.

"We can be of assistance to the Irish in the Pacific and elsewhere and we know the Irish can be a big help to us where the European Union is concerned," he said.

"So if we both put our best foot forward, we can deepen our relationship and get more out of it for both of our populations," he added.