Hawke's Bay people and expats were left wondering yesterday how the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union would affect them.

The referendum result plunged global markets into disarray and was said to likely harm New Zealand's hopes for a trade deal.

Dubbed "Brexit" the UK would be the first major country to leave the EU.

With no precedent its impact on the single market of 500 million people - the world's largest economy - is unclear.


Speaking en route to a market-access meeting in Czech Republic, Special Trade Envoy and Waipukurau farmer Mike Petersen said the exit would likely harm New Zealand's hope of a trade deal with the EU because trade policy people would likely be "completely tied up dealing with Brexit issues".

"The chances of New Zealand getting on the agenda over the next two years have got a bit harder," he said.

People in Europe were "stunned" with the referendum result, which brought "complexity and uncertainty, which could be the most damaging".

"The reality is none of us knows what this means and the reality is we all need to take a deep breath and work out what this means." UK expats gathered at Havelock North's Rose and Shamrock Inn yesterday.

"We're all celebrating leaving the European Union," said Terry Bicket, who emigrated 15 years ago.

"It will be good for New Zealand. Before the UK joined the EU, the British were massive importers of New Zealand goods. Now, maybe we can have a closer relationship without all that bureaucracy and red tape."

His family and friends in the UK were split 50/50.

"It's caused massive division, and it's going to be tough but it's going to be good.

"Here in New Zealand you have four million people and a country proudly punching above its weight. Why can't the UK be the same? This will rid us of all the red tape and bureaucracy and give us our own destiny."

Nick Roberts emigrated 12 years ago and said being in the EU was "a disaster all round".

"I have three brothers still over there and they tell me 'the UK is full'," he said.

"New Zealanders can't immigrate there and they should be able to, people from the commonwealth should have priority.

"The UK should be back under its own control."

Dickie Waterer said Brexit was triggered by "a bunch of malcontents".

"People are disillusioned with the British government and the EU has become the fall guy.

"They want it to go back to the way it was, but it will never be the same. They have no protection now."

Expats Ed and Julie Connolly were upset at the result. From their Haumoana home Mr Connolly said the result would be "an expensive mistake".

The result was "all about immigration" with little thought given to economic ramifications by "the working class".

"It is the biggest turnout for a poll, for almost ever in the UK, so the masses came out of their council estates worried about immigration."

"They are blaming Europe for that so they decided to pull out."

Mr Connolly was in the UK grocery sector when the Europe limited New Zealand access for dairy and meat "and we sold quite a lot of it".

Hawke's Bay travel agents aren't expecting to be rushed off their feet with trips to the UK, despite the exchange rate dropping a resounding 10 per cent in six hours in response to Brexit.

"We haven't had an increase in enquiries yet," said Jenny Nilsson of House of Travel, "although next week could be a different story as the news sinks in."

-UK in uproar, p19

-Independence Day, b15