The U. S. diplomatic presence in New Zealand dates back to the commissioning of the first U.S. Consul in 1838. Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1942, following the United Kingdom’s recognition of New Zealand’s domestic and external autonomy within the British Empire. During World War II, U.S. military personnel were stationed in New Zealand to prepare for battles such as Guadalcanal and Tarawa. The United States and New Zealand share common elements of history and culture and a commitment to democratic principles. New Zealand’s relationship with the United States in the post-World War II period was closely associated with the 1951 Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) security treaty, under which signatories agreed to consult in case of an attack in the Pacific and to “act to meet the common danger.” This changed in the 1980s, when New Zealand’s implementation of a policy barring nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered warships from its ports effectively prevented practical alliance cooperation under ANZUS. In 1986 the United States suspended its ANZUS security obligations to New Zealand.
In 2010 the United States and New Zealand signed the Wellington Declaration, reaffirming close ties between the two countries and outlining future practical cooperation. This was enhanced in 2012 by the signing of the Washington Declaration which strengthened the defense relationship by providing a framework and strategic guidance for security cooperation and defense dialogues.
The New Zealand Government attaches significant importance to continued close political, economic, and social ties with the United States. New Zealand actively engages in peacekeeping and international security efforts around the world. The United States and New Zealand work together on a range of scientific areas, especially research in the Antarctic. Christchurch is the staging area for joint logistical support operations serving U.S. permanent bases at McMurdo Station and South Pole, and New Zealand’s Scott base.