Crossword Genius

Diligence essential to NZ's expansion (4)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

zeal

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Here is my best explanation:

'diligence' is the definition.
Although both the answer and definition are singular nouns, I can't understand how one could define the other.

'essential to nz's expansion' is the wordplay.
'essential to' says to take the centre.
'expansion' becomes 'eal' (I am not sure about this - if you are sure you should believe this answer much more).
The middle of 'nzs' is 'z'.
'z'+'eal'='ZEAL'

Ross

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This clue was last seen in The Independent

(Other definitions for zeal that I've seen before include "Extreme enthusiasm", "Ardour", "Eagerness and devotion", "Fervour", "fire", "Fanaticism", "Fervent devotion", "6 [ENTHUSIASM]", "Verve" and "Militancy".)

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