The local sharemarket is having its worst day in more than seven months as heightened trade tensions and fears about growth spook investors.
The benchmark NZX-50 index fell more than 150 points – nearly 1.6 percent – in the morning session, with only a handful of stocks managing to post meagre rises.
At the time of publishing it had fallen 180.5 points, the biggest one-day fall since mid-October.
New Zealand’s sharemarket is playing catch up after the Queen’s Birthday holiday, with investors around the world rattled by growing trade disputes and fears about slowing world economic growth.
At times of heightened volatility and nervousness, investors sell risky assets such as shares and look for the safety of government bonds.
The biggest falls were for infant formula company A2 Milk, down 8 percent, and dairy company Synlait, which makes the product, as the Chinese government said it would look to lift local production.
A2 Milk sells much of its produce in China.
Tourism-related companies including Auckland International Airport, Air New Zealand, and Tourism Holdings were also weaker, while Fletcher Building dipped after it lowered its forecast for annual earnings.
The New Zealand market has been one of the best performing in the world this year, setting record highs in recent weeks.
Brokers said it was likely some investors have taken the opportunity to cash in on the 14 percent gains.