Foreign Policy Officer Āpiha Take Tāwāhi

Foreign policy officers represent New Zealand's interests overseas and provide policy advice to the Government on foreign affairs and trade issues.

Foreign policy officers may do some or all of the following:

  • work overseas to promote New Zealand's interests
  • seek improved access for New Zealand exports and help organise trade missions
  • participate in global discussions on protecting New Zealand and international oceans and environment 
  • negotiate treaties and agreements with other countries
  • liaise with local authorities in other countries
  • study and report on political and economic developments
  • help develop foreign policy and trade policy
  • draft briefing papers and submissions
  • inform industries about trade policies of other countries.
  • working with international partners to advocate for New Zealand positions and come up with creative solutions for issues.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for foreign policy officers includes:

  • volunteer work with community, religious or cultural groups
  • work with international organisations in legal, economic or trade fields, or in public policy
  • working with Pacific or Māori communities, or other cultures
  • coaching or leadership experience.

Personal Qualities

Foreign policy officers need to be:

  • adaptable, versatile and resilient
  • able to relate to people from a wide range of cultures, but have a strong sense of New Zealand identity 
  • able to persuade and influence others
  • able to work well as part of a team
  • excellent communicators
  • good at analysing and interpreting information.


Foreign policy officers need to have knowledge of:

  • political, economic, industrial, social and cultural aspects of New Zealand life
  • the politics and cultures of other countries
  • international affairs.

The ability to communicate in te reo Māori or a foreign language is useful. 


Foreign policy officers:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • often work overseas in embassies, high commissions and consulates
  • may travel domestically and internationally when working out of New Zealand.

Foreign Policy Officers can earn around $63K-$69K per year.

Pay for foreign policy officers varies depending on qualifications and experience.

  • Entry-level foreign policy officers usually earn $63,000 to $69,000 a year.
  • Mid-level foreign policy officers can earn between $69,000 and $110,000
  • Senior foreign policy officers can earn from $110,000 to $150,000.  

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2020.

Foreign policy officers may progress within MFAT to senior roles such as an overseas ambassador or director of a world regional division. They can also move into adviser or consultant roles in the private sector.

Foreign policy advisers may specialise in working in a particular country or region.

Years Of Training

5 years of training required.

To become a foreign policy officer you need: 

  • an undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification, or be in your final year of study
  • relevant public or private sector experience
  • to be able to pass a security clearance.

Graduates need at least three months but not more than three years relevant work experience, preferably in a policy, legal or other public sector role. 

New foreign policy officers work through a two-year development programme.

Foreign Policy Officer