Ambassadors and High Commissioners present their credentials to the Governor-General of New Zealand at ceremonies held at Government House throughout the year.
Credentials are a letter from an Ambassador or High Commissioner’s Head of State appointing them as their diplomatic representative.
Credentials ceremonies are an important part of the Governor-General’s constitutional and ceremonial duties. The ceremony has a distinctively New Zealand character, and welcomes the new Head of Mission to Government House and New Zealand.
The pōwhiri or traditional Māori welcome is followed by the inspection of a New Zealand Defence Force guard of honour. The Head of Mission-designate then heads inside Government House to formally present their credentials to the Governor-General.
High Commissioners that have Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as their Head of State do not present credentials to the Governor-General, and instead present a letter of introduction from their Prime Minister to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.However, at a later date they are formally welcomed to New Zealand by the Governor-General at Government House along with Heads of Mission presenting their credentials.
The order in which each Head of Mission presents their credentials is determined by the date and time of envoy’s arrival in New Zealand and establishes an Ambassador or High Commissioner’s precedence in the Diplomatic Corps.