From early pioneer beginnings, New Zealand's aviation industry has grown strongly. The opportunities presented by the new aviation age were quickly identified by New Zealanders. New Zealand was the first country in the world to import aircraft from Boeing. Agricultural aviation was developed initially and the possibilities presented by flight were quickly adopted by the forestry, tourism and freight industries.
An adventurous spirit and uncluttered and open airspace has resulted in New Zealand having one of the highest rates of aircraft ownership in the world. At most recent count, there were 3350 aircraft registered in New Zealand, (excluding military aircraft), or roughly one aircraft for every 1200 people.
These encompass 500 different models - including a high number of helicopters - all of which are serviced within New Zealand. A growing number of companies are also certified to maintain a wide range of commercial and military aircraft used by domestic and international operators.
New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority is viewed as outstanding amongst its international peers and has close relationships with other aviation regulators - such as the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the United States Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency - as well as working relationships with local industry.
Most of New Zealand's 790-odd aviation and related companies are small and privately owned but there are exceptions such as Air New Zealand. Skill levels are high and companies are responsive to customer demands with quick turnarounds being the norm.
New Zealand's international maintenance, repair and overhaul services are expanding. Innovation is also leading to a growth in aircraft manufacture, using new technology to design and create world-class aircraft to suit customers' needs.
With a generous nine percent of the world's airspace, New Zealanders have taken to the skies out of necessity. It has established globally recognised industry standards in extreme environments which are ideal for conducting flight test engineering trials. Additionally, developing products for New Zealand's tough and small market means its products are ready to meet the rigorous requirements of international projects.
New Zealand aviation exports are worth just over NZ$800m. The industry has set a goal of lifting this to NZ$2bn by 2020. Aviation New Zealand chief executive John Nicholson says its vision is for the New Zealand aviation sector to be a "specialised, globally connected, high value, growing and sustainable service and manufacturing industry based on 21st century technologies".
The New Zealand Government's economic development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), is working with the industry and Aviation New Zealand to build up the capability of individual businesses and connect them to international opportunities. NZTE's business unit Investment New Zealand can also connect the international aviation industry to New Zealand investment opportunities.