East Timor Prime Minister Dr Rui Araujo is visiting this week to mark what Prime Minister Bill English said was the "evolving relationship" between the two countries.

Araujo was a student at Otago University in the late 1990s and will revisit his old stamping ground as well as meeting with English.

His delegation will also meet business groups which the East Timor Government is hoping to learn from as it builds its own economy - such as a farm and the Royal Albatross Centre in Otago - an eco-tourism venture.

English said New Zealand and East Timor had a special bond after New Zealand took part in the peacekeeping mission as it went from Indonesian rule to independence.


"The relationship with New Zealand is now evolving as Timor-Leste's economy and society grow and develop."

He expected talks to focus on building trade and development links between the two countries.

A statement from the East Timor Minister of State Agio Pereira said Araujo would visit until March 4 with his wife, two ministers and the Second Commander General of the National Police Force.

The delegation will visit the Police Training College, which a spokesman said was to honour the contribution the NZ Police had made to East Timor's transition to independence.

"Timor-Leste welcomes the opportunity to encourage business partnership and to meet with New Zealand experts in areas that are important to the economic diversification of Timor-Leste."

He said the visit would build on the "history of friendship and co-operation" between the two countries.

More than 4000 New Zealand Defence Force and police personnel took part in an Australian-led peacekeeping force after Indonesian occupation of East Timor ended in 1999 until December 2012.

The country became independent in 2002 after decades of violence but peacekeeping forces staying on for a further decade to help ensure stability.