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Frankfurt Book Fair

New Zealand was the Guest of Honour at the prestigious 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair which ran from 10-14 October.

The New Zealand pavilion has broken all previous Guest of Honour attendance records at the Frankfurt Book Fair with more than 90,000 people visiting the pavilion over the weekend when the fair was opened to the public.

All of the Frankfurt Book Fair writer sessions held in the New Zealand Pavilion are now available on our Youtube channel. Features speakers from Weta Workshop, Māori storytelling, cooks, comics to writers discussing working life in the aftermath of the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.

New Zealand breaks records in Frankfurt

Inside Out Productions short film which won an award at the 2014 Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film.

YouTube clip featuring highlights from the Frankfurt Book Fair.

A summary of New Zealand's Guest of Honour role

New Zealand was the Guest Country of Honour at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF). Attended by around 300,000 people from 110 countries, the Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest book fair and most prestigious annual publishing event.

New Zealand’s Guest of Honour project ran for the whole year leading up to the fair, presenting 82 New Zealand writers and many cultural performers in more than 260 events in Frankfurt and 50 other cities throughout Germany and Europe. It provided an unprecedented opportunity not only to sell our books into international markets, but also to showcase New Zealand’s literature and culture, to promote trade and tourism and to strengthen our political ties with Germany.

The Frankfurt Book Fair project was a major focus for the Ministry during 2011/12 and the first half of 2012/13. As the lead agency, the Ministry formed a small team to run the project, in collaboration with a number of other government agencies in New Zealand and Germany.

We partnered with the NZ Film Commission, NZ Film Archive, the Publishers Association of NZ (PANZ), Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, the NZ-German Business Association and a range of other sponsors and partners in New Zealand and Germany, to effectively leverage government’s investment.

New Zealand’s highly successful programme built awareness and interest throughout the year, peaking at the Book Fair with almost 68,000 people visiting the New Zealand pavilion over five days. The FBF organisers attributed the 6% overall increase in the FBF’s public attendance figures to New Zealand’s Guest of Honour presence and profile.    

Literature and Publishing Programme

Eighty-two New Zealand writers featured in more than 260 literary events in 51 cities in 2012 – mostly in Germany but also in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, France and the UK. Thirty-five New Zealand publishers attended the 2012 FBF to negotiate rights sales with international agents and publishers from a collective New Zealand trade stand.

The German translation rights for 83 New Zealand books were sold in the lead up to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Since the Fair, there have been a further 33 German rights sales to 31 December 2013 – a total of 116 in all. New Zealand would normally sell the rights to around 10 books into Germany each year.

New Zealand rights sales into other territories were not measured before the October 2012 FBF. However, the 2012 FBF has resulted in 85 sales into other territories to 31 December 2013. In total this means at least 200 rights sales since early 2012. This is more than double the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) target of 100 rights sales by the end of 2013.

It is expected that this number will continue to rise. New Zealand publishers report further rights deals are in negotiation or under discussion as a result of the FBF.

The geographic reach of deals done and in negotiation include: Germany, France, UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Brazil, Poland, Sweden, The Netherlands, China, Italy, Japan, the Middle East, Slovenia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Norway.

Twenty New Zealand publishers, including five educational publishers returned to exhibit at the 2013 FBF, capitalising on the international interest achieved in 2012. They report further rights deals are in negotiation or under discussion as a result.

A German writer-in residence programme has been established in Wellington in 2014, funded by the German Embassy and the Goethe Institute and supported by the Wellington City Council. This idea was generated by New Zealand writers at the 2012 FBF, as a way of mirroring the Creative New Zealand residency in Berlin and strengthening cultural exchange between both countries.

Upcoming plans included a strong publisher presence at the 2014 FBF and PANZ entering into a contract with the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE) for New Zealand as the Guest of Honour in 2015.

Arts and Cultural Programme

The cultural programme in Frankfurt began in August 2012 where New Zealand was guest of honour at the Museumsuferfest – a festival which draws crowds of around three million people over 2.5 days. New Zealand’s cuisine and culture were showcased and the opening ceremony involved the Leiden Waka (the ceremonial waka on permanent loan from Toi Māori to the Volkenkunde Museum in the Netherlands) on the River Main.

In October 2012, New Zealand presented a rich and varied programme of visual arts, film, dance and music in Frankfurt, all of which received significant media attention. The other key feature of the cultural programme was the 2500m² Guest of Honour pavilion.

The New Zealand pavilion, a collaboration between Patterson Architects and Inside Out Productions, has gone on to win prestigious awards nationally and internationally.  Most recently the While You Were Sleeping film by Inside Out Productions won the spatial communication category at the 2014 Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film. The pavilion design won the 2012 New Zealand Interior Design Supreme Award as well as the Installation Category Award, and gained third place in the 2013 Adam and Eve German installation design awards. The pavilion also received the International Architecture Award at the 2014 New Zealand Architecture Awards.

Live Cinema Carnival of Souls by Jumpboard was invited to perform at The Barbican in London in October 2013 as a direct result of CNZ’s support of international presenters to view this work in Frankfurt in October 2012.

The NZ music showcase at Frankfurt generated major media features for The Black Seeds and Electric Wire Hustle. The Black Seeds have since returned to Germany for five further performances, including two major festivals in Cologne and Freiberg.

NZ film producer Catherine Fitzgerald participated in the November 2013 Wiesbaden film festival retrospective of NZ films, and wrote this account:

"It was incredibly heartening … to get a sense of a very keen interest in NZ creativity which had been piqued by the Book Fair in Frankfurt! … It has had a real impact, more than a year down the track, among an intelligentsia and general arts focussed group of the population. A group that are now genuinely more interested in our films, music, art as well as books."

Education New Zealand

Education New Zealand (ENZ) worked with PANZ to fund nine New Zealand education publishers to operate a trade stand at the 2012 FBF.  It also funded a web-book to showcase the products of 14 education publishers and tell New Zealand’s export education publishing story.

Other ENZ activities included two online competitions targeting school students and culinary students and a successful volunteer programme at the FBF – ENZ recruited German students who had studied in New Zealand to guide visitors to the pavilion and publishers stand and to highlight New Zealand education opportunities for international students.

As of March 2014, seven new education rights deals have been confirmed, with more potential deals in train.

There was a 38 percent increase in German registrations in ENZ’s Lead Management system after the FBF. This system captures information about potential future students; eg potential students who sign up to attend a NZ education fair.

ENZ supported five education publishers to attend the 2013 FBF.  This also provided an opportunity to build export connections with Brazil, the 2013 guest country of honour and one of ENZ’s new target markets.

Following the success of the FBF, ENZ is now supporting programmes with PANZ to build export connections and participate as the Guest of Honour at the 2015 Taipei International Book Exhibition.

Preference of Germans for New Zealand as a travel destination

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) runs an “Active Considerer Monitor’ in six of TNZ’s key international markets, including Germany. The target audience is consumers who are actively considering New Zealand for a holiday in the near future. The monthly survey reports on New Zealand’s brand image and advertising effectiveness in each market.

Results in Germany show that preference for New Zealand as a destination continues to be above benchmarks for Germany post the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair.  June 2013 figures show a 64% preference for New Zealand (top 2 box score). These figures have shown steady improvement since 2012.

Results for the quarter to June 2013 also show that 50% of Active Considerers in Germany associate NZ with “offers rich local arts and cultural experiences” – an increase from 39% in the previous quarter.

With 9,424 extra arrivals for the 12 months to the end of March 2014, Germany overtook Japan to become New Zealand's fifth largest visitor market during this time. Total arrivals from Germany were up 14.5 per cent for the year to 74,224 - the highest ever recorded for a 12 month period, with 6.4 per cent growth in March.  German holiday makers are staying an average of 24 days, injecting significant value into the economy during their visit.  For the year ending August 2014, holiday arrivals out of Germany are up 21.6 per cent.

Germany is our second-largest visitor market in Europe and one that presents significant opportunities for New Zealand tourism. The latest visitor arrivals for the four weeks ending 28 June 2015 end show a significant 21.3 per cent increase compared to the same four week period last year.

“New Zealand is Cooking” and restoration of Rauru meeting house

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and New Zealand meat and wine industry organisations co-sponsored the New Zealand is Cooking festival in Frankfurt in October 2012. Six New Zealand celebrity chefs served New Zealand cuisine and wine in two Frankfurt restaurants and at the FBF itself. Invitees included German and international media and German buyers. The festival also provided hosting opportunities for New Zealand businesses with German contacts. The Minister of Finance, Hon Bill English, hosted the first VIP dinner.

For the reopening of the restored Rauru meeting house in Hamburg, MFAT and NZTE also organised a gala evening for invited guests, hosted by Minister English. Te Arawa iwi participated and Te Kapa o Ngati Tarawhai performed.

Following their participation in these events:

  • New Zealander Robin Stalker, CFO at Adidas in Germany, agreed to become Specialist Advisor in NZTE’s Beachhead Advisor programme. The Beachhead advisors are experienced business people who are willing and committed to sharing their knowledge and to advise NZ companies on their internationalisation strategies.
  • a NZ health technology company reported a 30% increase in business with a key customer. The company comments: “Events like the book fair strongly support the role of NZ companies in Germany or Europe”.
  • a NZ Health-IT company has now signed a partnership agreement with a new partner.
  • German wine journalist and educator Richard Grosche travelled to New Zealand and published articles and held educational tastings on New Zealand wine.

New Zealand-German Diplomatic relations

New Zealand’s Guest of Honour status strengthened New Zealand’s diplomatic relations at the highest political level (Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Westerwelle) with Prime Minister Key’s June 2012 visit and visits by the Ministers of Finance and Arts, Culture and Heritage in October 2012. 

New Zealand hosted a number of other international VIPs at the FBF, including the President of the Bundesrepublik, Joachim Gauck; the President of the Bundestag, Professor Norman Lammert; and the Prime Minister of South Korea, Kim Hwang-Sik.

Speaking at the 2012 FBF opening ceremony, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged New Zealand to build on the positive profile it received in Europe as the FBF Guest Country of Honour. This profile provided a useful platform for the 60th anniversary of German-NZ diplomatic relations in 2013. Activities included: a reception at the 2013 FBF for 120-150 publishing industry business contacts, publishers and writers with German agents; a performance by classical music group NZ Trio in Berlin in September 2013 with business, government and culture VIPs; and the staging of the Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand exhibition of photos in the German Foreign Ministry entrance foyer in November 2013. 

The German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel visited New Zealand in 2014 and Professor Norman Lammert in 2016.

A presentation of 48 historical Māori portraits by the 19th-century painter Gottfried Lindauer and associated photographs was widely acclaimed in Berlin. The presentation, Gottfried Lindauer: The Māori Portraits at the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) was from the collections of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. A February 2015 media release highlighted that almost 65,000 visitors had viewed the works in Berlin before the exhibitition travelled to Lindauer’s birthplace of Pilsen in the Czech Republic for another exhibition from May until July 2015 at the Západočeská galerie v Plzni (Gallery of West Bohemia in Pilsen).

Māori portraits deliver record-breaking exhibition for Berlin

Lindauer’s Māori portraits to travel to Europe for first time

Relations between Germany and New Zealand have never been stronger than today. As an example, Germans today are ranked sixth in the number of visitors coming to New Zealand (90 000) staying on average 52 days. Last year nearly 14,000 young Germans travelled to New Zealand under the working holiday scheme. In 2016, the German Major has been re-established at the University of Canterbury, with six universities throughout New Zealand now offering this qualification.

In the economic sector, Germany is New Zealand`s second most important trading partner in Europe and its seventh largest bilateral trading partner worldwide - bilateral trade in goods again reached more than 3.1 billion NZD in 2015. There has been a considerable increase in direct German investments in New Zealand, now standing at $NZ 952 million. There are clear indications of growth in economic relations between our two countries. The New Zealand German Business Association (NZGBA) has made a significant contribution to trade and investment.

2017saw the 40th anniversary of Bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement that has resulted in over 200 German scientists working on joint research projects in New Zealand and approximately 2,600 German students studying at New Zealand universities. Every fifth New Zealand scientist is cooperating with a German counterpart. The variety and depth of these science relations could be seen when the German R/V SONNE, one of the most sophisticated science vessels in the world, visited Wellington in 2016 to carry out several months of research into the New Zealand marine environment.

Māori culture and business

Māori concepts and design were at the forefront of the Guest of Honour programme, including brand values and campaign messaging. Māori writers, performers, musicians and visual artists featured strongly in the programme, supported by Creative New Zealand, Te Puni Kōkiri, Toi Māori, Te Puia, Te Matatini and Māori Tourism, and a delegation of Māori publishers.

As at March 2014, Māori publishers have confirmed five book rights sales and two further sales in negotiation.  

There was extensive German media coverage of Māori writers and performing arts in Berlin and Frankfurt and of the reopening of the Rauru meeting house in Hamburg. Visitor numbers to Rauru continue to be very high.

Communications and Media Coverage

The communications and PR strategy developed by MCH with a German PR company resulted in New Zealand being mentioned in 9,000+ press clippings in Germany in October 2012 alone.  Many of these were in-depth feature articles in Germany’s ‘top 10’ media channels including television, print, online and radio. 

Fifty hours of film footage, including key events and interviews with authors, and publishers have been made available on the NZ FBF website and a range of social media channels. The press and film material has all been made available to sponsors, authors, publishers & performers.

Legacy of Guest of Honour project

The FBF Guest of Honour project demonstrated the value of government agencies pooling funding and clustering activity around a major offshore event to raise New Zealand’s profile in Germany and beyond and to achieve positive outcomes across many government sectors. In Germany we have established strong networks and relationships on which to build. In New Zealand we have established a useful model for showcasing our culture and our creative industries offshore.

Project background

The Guest of Honour country showcases its culture in a year-long programme throughout Germany, culminating in the Frankfurt Book Fair. New Zealand exhibited its premier arts, creative industries and stories to new audiences and businesses. A hand-over ceremony from the previous Guest of Honour, Iceland was held on Sunday 16 October 2011 in Frankfurt.

Former Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Christopher Finlayson announced New Zealand’s selection as Guest of Honour country with German Foreign Minister, Dr Guido Westerwelle at a media conference held at the Auckland Museum on 2 June 2011. The contract was signed between Lewis Holden, the then-Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive and Juergen Boos, the Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The fair is held annually in the second week of October and runs over five days – three days for trade and two for the public. The fair features:

  • over 110 attending countries
  • almost 300,000 visitors
  • 180,000 international trade visitors
  • 100,000 buyers
  • 10,000 international journalists from 63 countries
  • over 5000 media reports in Germany and internationally: all German TV, radio stations, newspapers, related magazines, and online portals cover the event.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is increasingly extending its focus beyond books to digital media and the range of businesses contributing to that industry, the film industry, the gourmet industry, science, technology and medicine. It also features education, the promotion of literacy, books in translation, international culture and politics, audio books, children's books, comics, maps, and other aspects of the book trade.

Creative New Zealand made a significant contribution to support New Zealand's Frankfurt Book Fair Guest of Honour literary, arts and cultural programme in 2012. Information about Creative New Zealand is available on its website.

Related websites

An archival copy of the NZ at Frankfurt website.

The Frankfurt Book Fair website.

Creative New Zealand's website.

Updated on 7th October 2019