Pavlova and Beyond: 75 years of New Zealand/Russia diplomatic relations


Join us for an exciting cultural and historical journey into the fascinating world of early and current Russia-New Zealand relations. Discover the first Russian–Māori encounters and the cultural understanding behind the Russian “icy haka” contrasting with the later years of the 19th century when New Zealand was on fearful guard against Russian invasion. Learn about the heroism of Russian ANZACs in the First War, and the stunning beauty of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova whose New Zealand visit became a cultural landmark. Find out more about the Second War alliance, wary New Zealand-Soviet military, social and diplomatic links post-War, and the initial opportunities for New Zealand in post-Cold War Russia.

Target audience:
This course is for anyone interested in the historical, diplomatic and cultural relations between Russia and New Zealand, and for those who would like to explore the opportunities for engagement between Russia and New Zealand today.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will have gained an understanding of:

  • the vast scope of Russia, both geographically and culturally
  • major historical milestones in Russia-New Zealand historical, diplomatic and cultural relations
  • New Zealand’s engagement with Russia.

Course outline:
Each session will include lecture presentation with time for questions and group discussion. Topics to be covered include:

Session 1: Early 19th to 21st centuries: first Russian–Māori encounters
Session 2: 1880s – New Zealand on guard against Russian invasion; Russian ANZACs; the story of Pavlova; Katherine Mansfield and Russia.
Session 3: Soviet–New Zealand military, social and diplomatic relations;
Session 4: The new Russia and New Zealand

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Dr Olga Suvorova has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from one of the leading international universities Lomonosov Moscow State University and a MA in Linguistics (Distinction). She is the immediate President of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters, Wellington Branch (2016-2018).

“The course was varied in content & interesting for those with an interest in Russia. Olga is an engaging presenter who gave us a real feeling for things Russian”, Russia Today: Power, passion and pain participant (2017)

“Course instructor was very knowledgeable and clearly very passionate about the subject matter. Content about NZ-Russia relations was particularly interesting, and potentially could be expanded into a course in its own right”, Russia Today: Power, passion and pain participant (2017)

Relevant links:
School of Languages and Cultures
Russian Keys

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.