A Chinese government official and business leaders from the country will be in the Bay of Islands today to discuss how Far North businesses and Māori can benefit from an initiative designed to promote closer links with China.

Just how they can benefit is one of the questions that will be discussed at a trade and investment forum the Far North District Council has helped organise at Copthorne Waitangi, from 4pm today.

The Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China in Auckland is hosting the forum to discuss opportunities for mutually beneficial trade, tourism and investment cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Far North Mayor John Carter said.

The BRI is a Chinese Government initiative designed to promote closer ties between China and other countries through trade growth. Sixty-nine nations and organisations, including New Zealand, have signed up to the initiative since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced it in 2013.


A BRI memorandum of arrangement the New Zealand and Chinese Governments signed last year aims to achieve $30 billion of two-way trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

Carter said, until now, talks between the Far North and China have mostly been at a government level. The FNDC has though signed a joint memorandum of intent with Chinese company Tus Holdings regarding a $1 billion investment and council officials visited the country last year.

The purpose of today's forum is to extend the depth and breadth of the engagement with Chinese officials and companies.

"The council agreed to facilitate this forum because iwi and business-owners need to be involved in the discussion about trade and investment between the two countries," he said.

Other councils and iwi in New Zealand have held similar forums where local and Chinese companies have highlighted successes and opportunities for growth.

Local delegates at the forum will include more than 30 people from iwi authorities, Māori-owned enterprises and business associations, as well as farming.

Guest speakers include representatives of BNZ, China Forestry Group New Zealand, China Southern Airlines, China Travel Service (NZ), the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand, CVIC Software Engineering New Zealand, Far North Holdings, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (New Zealand), Ngati Hine Forestry Trust, Northland Chamber of Commerce, Northland Inc and Te Hiku Media.