Category: Politics

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How successful was Chris Hipkins’ trip to Papua New Guinea?

Chris Hipkins is blazing his way through New Zealand’s foreign policy. The New Zealand Prime Minister’s fast-but-furious visit to Papua New Guinea this week – which saw Hipkins spend just 23 hours in Port Moresby, the PNG capital – was the PM’s fourth such rapid international trip since he took office. But after two quick visits to Australia and one to the United Kingdom, this was Hipkins’ first foray into the Pacific. Moreover, Monday’s trip to PNG put the Prime Minister at the heart of the new ‘Great Game’ for control of the Pacific. And in the geopolitical battle between...

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Why Chris Hipkins is heading to Brisbane – not Beijing

This weekend’s visit to Australia by New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins speaks volumes about major changes underway in New Zealand foreign policy. Hipkins is flying to Brisbane – Australia’s third-biggest city and home to around 100,000 New Zealand citizens – to meet with his counterpart, Anthony Albanese. The trip’s significance comes in part from its timing. Hipkins is visiting just before Anzac Day on 25 April. On this day each year, Australia and New Zealand both remember the role played and losses suffered by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (or Anzac for short) in World War I,...

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Why New Zealand is getting closer to NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has New Zealand firmly in its sights. Last week, New Zealand’s foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta attended the annual NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels – alongside her counterparts from Australia, Japan and South Korea. Mahuta’s participation came after New Zealand’s then Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined last June’s NATO leaders’ summit in Madrid. Mahuta was also a guest at the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in April 2022, albeit only in virtual form. At a more granular level, a NATO military delegation visited New Zealand last month for meetings with officials in Wellington. The head...

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New Zealand’s Middle East strategy, 20 years after the Iraq War

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the Iraq War. While it strongly opposed the US-led invasion, New Zealand’s then Labour-led government led by Prime Minister Helen Clark did deploy military engineers to try to help rebuild Iraq in mid-2003. With violence soaring, their 12-month deployment ended without being renewed further, in 2004. However, New Zealand re-entered Iraq in 2015 as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group. The emergence and growth of ISIS was one of many unintended consequences of the Iraq War’s disastrous and bloody aftermath. The Government announced...

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New Zealand’s foreign policy hardens under new leadership

Times are changing in New Zealand foreign policy. That seems to be the message from New Zealand’s new triumvirate of ministers with responsibility for foreign affairs and defence – Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta and defence minister Andrew Little. Jacinda Ardern’s departure as Prime Minister was always going to provide an opportunity to adjust New Zealand’s positioning. In particular, Hipkins’ decision to appoint Andrew Little as defence minister – replacing Peeni Henare – seems to have been a strategic move. From the top, Hipkins has struck a more ideological tone in his most substantive comments on foreign...

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New Zealand resets relationships with Australia and India

The first clues to New Zealand’s foreign policy after Jacinda Ardern are beginning to emerge. Chris Hipkins, the new Prime Minister, decided to retain Nanaia Mahuta as his foreign minister – and both Hipkins and Mahuta took to the skies last week. While Hipkins headed to Australia – the customary first destination for an incoming New Zealand Prime Minister – Mahuta flew to India on a surprise trip announced just a day prior to her departure. In very different contexts, the pair managed to smooth over differences and pave the way for deeper partnerships – which may well involve greater...

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Jacinda Ardern’s outsized New Zealand foreign policy legacy

Jacinda Ardern had an outsized impact on New Zealand’s international relations. While all Prime Ministers travel internationally, Ardern’s calendar was fuller than most. Ardern’s first major foreign trip came within weeks of her election in 2017, to the APEC summit in Vietnam. The meeting gave Ardern her first in-person encounter with Donald Trump, who she told ‘no-one marched when I was elected’ after Trump suggested she had ‘caused a lot of upset’ in New Zealand. Ardern was often cast as the ‘anti-Trump’ figure by commentators during the first years of her premiership, and her comments at her first UN General...

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What Japan’s foreign policy shifts mean for New Zealand

Japan is a country on the move. Since World War II, Tokyo has largely been happy to outsource its security needs to Washington. But this is now changing to a more equal partnership. On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called his country’s alliance with the United States ‘stronger than ever’. For his part, US President Joe Biden, who hosted Kishida at the White House, said the United States was ‘fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance’ with Japan. The words from Kishida and Biden might seem like the usual diplomatic niceties, but behind the smiles from the two leaders...

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What to expect from Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the New Zealand Parliament

As New Zealand’s foreign policy year draws to a close, it seems fitting that Volodymyr Zelensky will have the final word. Ukraine’s President is scheduled to address the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington by video link early on Wednesday morning, local time. New Zealand is something of a latecomer when it comes to inviting Zelensky to speak to its legislature in 2022. Zelensky did the rounds of most Western countries during the first half of the year, especially in March and April. Parliaments in the United Kingdom, United States and EU countries were first in line, but Australia took its...

Impressions from the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi

Recently I had the privilege to attend the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi. This was a wonderful opportunity and I was really lucky to be invited to attend the event as a guest of the Emirates News Agency, upon the recommendation of the UAE Embassy in Wellington. It was a great chance to use and practise my Arabic and I was surprised by just how much Arabic I was able to speak and use, both with attendees at the Global Media Congress and generally with Arabic speakers on the street in the UAE. This was hugely encouraging and motivating,... - Understand the world through New Zealand