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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

New Zealand in Eurovision? "Yes absolutely" says EU Ambassador

Photo courtesy of Eurovision NZ

The European Union's ambassador to New Zealand, Nina Obermaier, has supported the idea of New Zealand being a Eurovision contestant.

Speaking to Charlotte Cook on RMZ's radio show Morning Report, the EU ambassador proposed that if there was enough support from New Zealanders, the Pacific country should apply for the contest .

"Yes absolutely ... I don't see any reason why New Zealand would not be able to join [Eurovision]. It would require a bit of enthusiasm though because ... Eurovision is massive ... [there are] viewing parties all over Europe and [Australia]."

Ambassador Obermaier stated that New Zealand could apply in the same manner as Australia and SBS, by utilising the fact that one of its television broadcasters is an associate member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Television New Zealand (TVNZ) has held this distinction since 1980.

"As an associate member of the European Broadcasting Union, [New Zealand] can ask to bring forward [their] own participant."

However, being an EBU associate member interested in taking part in Eurovision does not necessarily guarantee a place in the contest. Kazakhstan's Khabar Agency has been an associate member of the EBU since 2016. Despite keen interest from the Central Asian country to be part of Eurovision, and even debuting at the junior version of the contest in 2018, the EBU has so far not allowed Kazakhstan to participate.

If New Zealand were allowed to compete at Eurovision, Ambassador Obermaier proposed that the nation should select its representative through a national final like many other European nations. However she would not be drawn into who she thought should represent the Pacific nation, saying: "I think this will be for New Zealanders to nominate."

Ambassador Obermaier has been the EU's foremost representative to New Zealand since November 2019, with her tenure expected to expire later this year. She initially began her career as a journalist, and has been working for the EU in various capacities since 2001.

Ambassador Obermaier with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta / Photo courtesy of @NinaObermaierEU

This is not the first time the idea of New Zealand participating in a Eurovision-related competition has been put forward. In 2018 TVNZ began initial discussions to take part in the Eurovision Asia Song Contest. When this contest was shelved, Eurovision fans suggested that New Zealand should debut in the Europe-wide version of the competition, given that Australia was already a competitor. Former EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, also supported the idea tweeting it should be given "serious consideration".

However, in 2021 the EBU stated there were "no plans ... to invite New Zealand" to be part of Eurovision, noting that Australia's participation was due to the fact SBS had been airing the contest consistently for over three decades.

If the EBU changes its mind and invites New Zealand to be part of Eurovision, it could benefit Australia in the voting, given the close cultural affinity and shared music tastes of the two neighbouring countries. Australians though may be a little jealous of New Zealanders watching the contest live, given Eurovision starts at a more comfortable 7am on the New Zealand main islands.

You can listen to RMZ's full interview with Ambassador Obermaier about New Zealand's potential participation in Eurovision at this link.

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