Mr. Cristiano da Costa is the first resident Ambassador of Timor-Leste to New Zealand. He presented his letter of credentials to Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Gerry Mateparae, Governor General of New Zealand, on 1 May 2014 at the Government House in Wellington.
Born in 1960 at Baucau, East Timor, da Costa attended primary and secondary school at the Salesian Missionary School between 1967 and 1974. The following year his secondary schooling was interrupted by 1975 invasion of East Timor by Indonesia.
During the mid-1970s, da Costa was active in the Youth and Students’ Organisation of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN). He joined the resistance movement and was imprisoned by the Indonesian army three times, in 1980, 1982 and from 1983 to 1985. Exiled to Macau in 1987 and then Portugal from 1988 to 1992, he would migrate to Australia as a refugee in 1992 until Timor-Leste achieved independence in 1999.
In 1993 he attended the University of New South Wales where he undertook a double degree in Arts and Law. Majoring in political science, he completed his arts degree in 1997 and an MA in International Relations at the same university in 1998.
His professional career has included work for United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). He has also taught at the University of Dili (Universidade de Dili), the Catholic Institute for Teachers Training (Instituto Católico para Formacão de Professores) and the University of Peace (Universidade de Paz).
During the transition period, from 1999 to 2005, da Costa was Spokesperson of East Timor’s Restoration of Independence Movement (FRETLIN-CPD-RDTL) and Later Spokesperson of the National Democratic Resistance Unit Timorese (Unidade Nacional Democratica da Resistencia Timorese). As Spokesperson, da Costa conceptualised and championed the idea of the restoration of independence.
Prior to his appointment as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, da Costa served as Vice Minister of Economy and Development in the Fourth Constitutional Government led by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão.
He is fluent in Portuguese, English, Malay/Indonesian and Tetum and is married with four children.