President Pranab Mukherjee and a Maori chief rubbed noses in a traditional welcome after his arrival in New Zealand on Saturday on the second and final leg of a two-nation tour.

Pressing that two countries have shared stakes in a peaceful, cooperative and prosperous Asia-Pacific region, President Mukherjee urged New Zealand’s partnership in promoting security, stability and prosperity in the region.

India and New Zealand sign air services deal
India and New Zealand sign air services deal

“Today, cricketers from New Zealand are household names in every part of India”, Mr Mukherjee said.

The President noted that India and New Zealand had demonstrated a remarkable degree of independence of spirit in defending and upholding democratic values.

“Our success in negotiating Air Services Agreements is providing New Zealand access to a large wealth of benefits including tourism and trade”.

The Maoris are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand and are believed to have settled in the country around 1280 AD.

“India is an emerging superpower, and its population of 1.25 billion people presents enormous opportunities for New Zealand”, the minister said. Briefing newspersons, Secretary East in the Ministry of External Affairs Preeti Saran said both sides agreed to expedite negotiations for an early conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement. His remarks came, while addressing the members of India-New Zealand Business Council. The most famous New Zealander known to Indians remains Sir Edmund Hillary – for being the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest along with Tenzing Norgay. In the year to March 31, 2016, nearly 52,000 Kiwis travelled to India and close to 60,000 Indians visited New Zealand.

New Zealand, he said, has made tremendous progress in several areas such as dairy development, food processing, communications and information technology among others.

Security systems in the Indian parliament, Hindustan Aeronautics or the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) among other locations are developed and installed by a New Zealand company.

New Zealand also has great technological abilities in cold storage supply chain management and post-harvest technologies, which are of interest to India.

India and New Zealand sign air services deal