New Zealand and Chinese leaders are gearing up for one of their most significant gatherings since the Free Trade Agreement was signed five years ago.

Taking place in Beijing next month, the first New Zealand China Partnership Forum will bring together key figures from a wide range of sectors in each country.

Alongside Prime Minister John Key will be the likes of Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings, University of Waikato vice-chancellor Roy Crawford and Ngati Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana.

The event is being co-hosted by the New Zealand China Council (NZCC) and the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges.


NZCC executive director Pat English said the April 12 forum was about far more than just trade and investment. Both countries would be represented by leaders from the government, tourism, business, science, culture and education sectors.

"This is very senior and there's significant representation of New Zealand's relationship with China."

Since the FTA was signed in 2008, exports to China have more than tripled, and last year totalled $6.9 billion. English said New Zealand had gained "a lot of momentum" since and the challenge now was to build on that foundation, something this forum would play a big part in.