5 Top Tips for Expanding to Canada From NZTE and AUT

26 February 2024
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Taghreed Hikmet, AUT Senior Lecturer, and Brett Halliday, a NZTE Beachhead Adviser, share 5 tips for expanding to Canada.

Drawing on the experiences and knowledge of Kiwis doing business in Canada can help your own success in the country. Don’t be afraid to reach out and do some friendly shoulder-tapping or collaborating with others already in the sector. In academic terms, such activity is called “harnessing the power of a localised network”.

That was the key message from a recent panel hosted by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) on expanding to Canada. AUT Business School Senior Lecturer Taghreed Hikmet was joined by NZTE Trade Commissioner and Consul General Matt Ritchie, Canadian Beachhead Advisor Brett Halliday, and Sasja Smit, NZTE Business Development Manager.

These experts all emphasised the need for Kiwi firms to move beyond commodity trading towards a diversified economy with value-added products and services. NZTE plays a pivotal role in this process, aiming to facilitate the growth of NZ businesses on an international scale. Recognising the challenge of providing specialist support for a diverse range of businesses, NZTE adopts an agile approach by partnering with local networks, industry sector groups, and business leaders to amplify its efforts. One of the key initiatives, the Beachheads Advisory Services, has become a vital tool in aiding New Zealand companies in Canada.

Brett Halliday, NZTE’s Canadian Beachhead Advisor who successfully launched Michael Hill Jewellers in Canada, shares his five points for international success:


1. Send your A Team.

  • When expanding into new markets, send in your “A Team”. Having your best people on the ground is essential for overcoming challenges and building relationships with new customers.
  • A successful recruitment strategy includes targeting local talent (and even recruiting from competitors!) to quickly gain knowledge and market share in your chosen location.

2. Location, location, location!

  • Choosing that initial location is crucial. Where will your business launch? The wrong choice can cost years of growth potential

3. Don’t get lost in translation.

  • As much as possible, use the local language to communicate. Localised language is not just about linguistic nuances but also understanding the cultural context.
  • Tap into local advisors and partners for advertising strategies and the critical role of internal communication, ensuring there’s clear messaging and internal brand perception.

4. Get advice from the locals.

  • Form a team of local experts to ensure your firm understands the Canadian market’s nuances.
    Schedule annual visits by lead teams from New Zealand and Australia to stay in touch with the local environment.

5. Confidence, not arrogance.

  • While being confident about products and business is essential, avoiding arrogance is equally crucial.
    Remain open to learning from the new market – and listen to advice!


Kiwi tech firms can learn from these strategies, which blend academic research with practical tactics. Taghreed Hikmet says academic theories of business best practice align with NZTE’s approach. For example, the Resource-Based View (RBV) and Network Theory both support NZTE’s strategy of relying on local networks.

NZTE’s practice and AUT Business School’s teaching and research share a common vision of what it takes for NZ businesses to succeed in Canada: a thoughtful combination of strategic planning, localisation, and humility. By tapping into local networks, understanding the Canadian market’s intricacies, and adapting business strategies accordingly, Kiwi companies can foster sustainable growth in the international landscape.

Watch the event in full here.

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