Political Roundup: NZ’s foreign policy hardens under new leadership

* Geoffrey Miller writes –

 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 policy to date, promising in a recent interview that New Zealand would maintain ‘steadfast support for Ukraine and its people as they continue to defend their homeland, and in doing so, the principles that we hold dear’.

The comments appeared notably more forceful than what amounted to the final word on Ukraine made by Jacinda Ardern while she was Prime Minister, made in mid-December when the New Zealand Parliament hosted a virtual address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Continue reading “Political Roundup: NZ’s foreign policy hardens under new leadership”

NZ-Aust defence agreement draws attention to the need for strengthening our military capabilities

Facing  what they  say is a  growing threat to regional security,  Defence  Minister Peeni  Henare  and  his  Australian  counterpart, Richard  Marles,  (who is  also Australia’s  Deputy Prime  Minister) have  agreed to  explore strengthening the  “joint operational capabilities of our forces”.

For  NZ, trying  to rebuild its  defence forces  which were run  down  during the  Covid  pandemic,  and  now  losing  personnel, this  is  particularly  significant.

Australia  and NZ  already  have  what  the  ministers  believe to be  a “uniquely  close  relationship”.  But with  the  unspoken  threat from  China in the  Pacific (the  ministers  call it  an “increasingly complex  security  environment”,  it  is  vital that  NZ steps  up  the  pace  of  recruiting  new  personnel  to  each  of  its three armed  services. Continue reading “NZ-Aust defence agreement draws attention to the need for strengthening our military capabilities”