Author: Geoffrey Miller

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Aukus or not, New Zealand’s foreign policy is being remade

This could be a watershed week for New Zealand’s international relations. Winston Peters, the foreign minister, is heading to Washington DC for a full week of meetings. The surprisingly lengthy trip just happens to coincide with a major trilateral summit of leaders from the United States, Japan and the Philippines. And a media report at the weekend suggested a wider Aukus ‘Pillar II’ announcement is imminent. The original Aukus partners are Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Rahm Emanuel, the US Ambassador to Japan, wrote late last week that Japan was ‘about to become the first additional Pillar...

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Wang Yi’s perfectly-timed, Aukus-themed visit to New Zealand

Timing is everything. And from China’s perspective, this week’s visit by its foreign minister to New Zealand could be coming at just the right moment. The visit by Wang Yi to Wellington will be his first since 2017. Anniversaries are important to Beijing. It is more than just a happy coincidence that the visit is taking place during the tenth anniversary year of the signing of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between China and New Zealand. That agreement, signed during a visit to Wellington by Xi Jinping in November 2014, marked the start of glory days for bilateral trade. New Zealand’s...

Lost in translation: the geopolitical risks of declining foreign language learning in Australia and NZ

Geoffrey Miller, University of Otago and Miriam Neigert, University of New England As the 2024 academic year begins in Australia and New Zealand, optimism over the state of foreign language learning at universities is in short supply. Languages have taken a post-pandemic battering. In 2023 alone, New Zealand’s Victoria University of Wellington decided to shut down its Greek, Latin and Italian programmes, while the University of Otago in Dunedin opted to discontinue German. In Australia, Sydney’s Macquarie University has proposed cutting five languages altogether – including German, Italian and Russian. Chinese, Croatian, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese are just some of...

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What Saudi Arabia’s rapid changes mean for New Zealand

Saudi Arabia is rarely far from the international spotlight. The war in Gaza has brought new scrutiny to Saudi plans to normalise relations with Israel, while the fifth anniversary of the controversial killing of Jamal Khashoggi was marked shortly before the war began on October 7. And as the home of Islam’s two holiest cities – Mecca and Medina – Saudi Arabia will be a particular focus over Ramadan. The Muslim holy month gets underway this week for 2024. For non-Muslim New Zealanders such as myself, the idea of visiting Saudi Arabia long seemed like an impossibility. Until September 2019,...

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New Zealand’s dilemma at the WTO’s big meeting in Abu Dhabi

New Zealand’s new trade minister is a busy man. Just weeks after taking office in late November, Todd McClay was also elected as vice-chair for the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO). A major gathering of trade ministers from the WTO’s 166 members, ‘MC13’ will take place from February 26-29 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital of Abu Dhabi. This is not the first time McClay has held the vice-chair role – he was also chosen for the job when he last served as trade minister in 2017. McClay will be one of three vice-chairs...

Interview with Bahrain’s Al Ayam newspaper on the state of New Zealand-Gulf relations in 2024

The following article/interview originally appeared in Arabic in Bahrain’s Al Ayam newspaper on Sunday, 21 January 2024, under the headline ‘Strengthening New Zealand-Gulf relations needs to be a priority for our countries’. I have lightly edited the following English translation from Google Translate. International political analyst at the Democracy Project at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, Geoffrey Miller, stressed to Al Ayam the importance of strengthening relations between his country and the Arab Gulf states, calling for strengthening relations with the Gulf states to be a priority on his country’s foreign policy map. Miller – who also runs...

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New Zealand’s huge shift in the Middle East

New Zealand is reshaping its foreign policy via the Middle East. A decision to provide intelligence support for future US and UK airstrikes on Yemen is highly symbolic. The Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon, announced the deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) troops to support the US-led military response to the attacks on commercial shipping from Houthis in Yemen that began on November 19. In announcing the contribution, Luxon played down its uniqueness, saying ‘choosing to support action in the Middle East is not unusual for New Zealand’. This was immediately echoed by his foreign minister, Winston Peters, who...

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New Zealand’s foreign policy resets on AUKUS, Gaza and Ukraine

New Zealand’s international relations are under new management. And Winston Peters, the new foreign minister, is already setting a change agenda. As expected, this includes a more pro-US positioning when it comes to the Pacific – where Peters will be picking up where he left off. Peters sought to align New Zealand more closely with the United States under his ‘Pacific Reset’ policy that he launched while serving as foreign minister under Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-New Zealand First coalition government from 2017-2020. Peters is wasting no time in getting back on the foreign affairs horse. Just three days after being sworn...

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New Zealand’s strategy for COP28 in Dubai

The COP28 countdown is on. Over 100 world leaders are expected to attend this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which starts next Thursday. Among the VIPs confirmed for the Dubai summit are the UK’s Rishi Sunak and Brazil’s Lula da Silva – along with King Charles and Pope Francis. On the other hand, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are both unlikely to join in – and neither is Australia’s Anthony Albanese. It remains to be seen which camp New Zealand’s new Prime Minister will fall into. Christopher Luxon is only expected to be formally...

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The foreign affairs puzzle facing New Zealand’s new Government

New Zealand’s new Government will need to hit the ground running on foreign affairs. Determining New Zealand’s full response to the war in Gaza and the fallout in the wider Middle East will be the first major test for whoever takes the foreign minister’s role. New Zealand has been run by a Labour caretaker administration since elections were held on October 14.  But the final results are now in – and once coalition negotiations are out of the way, a new right-leaning government will take office. During the transition period, caretaker Labour Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and outgoing foreign minister... - Understand the world through New Zealand