Home /  Columns /  New Zealand

Foreign PM minister nanaia mahuta, state secretary antony blinken highlight 'strong, wide-ranging, growing' US-NZ relationship

The United States' top diplomat Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with his Kiwi counterpart Nanaia Mahuta during his first official visit to New Zealand.

Speaking after the meeting, Mahuta said the meeting today builds on the strategic partnership between Aotearoa New Zealand and the US "set out in the joint statement from the former prime minister Ardern's meeting with President Biden at the White House last year".

She characterises the relationship as "strong, wide-ranging, and growing".

Trade links continue to grow, she said, with two-way trade last year worth over $22.9 billion. The security and defence relationship was valued, and the two countries are close partners on 21st-century challenges including space, cybersecurity, and Antarctica.

"New Zealand views the US among our closest friends and that our commitment to the international rules-based system has been designed to protect norms that work in the interests of all states irrespective of size."

Their discussion today was warm, covering common interests and challenges like that rules-based system, "and the challenges it faces in a more contested global environment and our Pacific region", Mahuta said.

She said they highlighted interests in commitments to democracy and human rights, and acknowledges the US' ongoing commitment to the resilience of its Pacific partners.

They talked about the responses to Russia's illegal war in Ukraine, and issues in the Pacific region, as well as strengthening the New Zealand-US relationship, she said.

The latter could include stronger economic ties including through the successful conclusion of Indo Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity negotiations, building on people-to-people links including in business and the arts like film and digital media, and building links between iwi and indigenous communities in the US.

Mahuta also conveyed New Zealand's support for the US to host APEC, and would welcome the US return to the CPTPP.

They also spoke about new frontiers in the relationship such as new and emerging technologies, and officials will this year begin work on that.


With New Zealand co-hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup, Mahuta said there was "nothing like a bit of sports diplomacy," and offered Secretary Blinken a welcome to New Zealand.

Blinken spoke about the "incredible quality and depth" of conversations with Mahuta and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on his first ever visit to New Zealand.

"Some things in life actually occasionally exceed even your highest expectations and I can safely say that's already the case. It's really wonderful to be here, the welcome ceremony that you honoured us with today is something I will never forget and I thank you for it."

He also raised something he said was not on the agenda: "We are very closely monitoring the situation and developments in Niger. I spoke with President [Mohamed] Bazoum earlier this morning and made it clear that the United States resolutely supports him as the democratically elected president of Niger."

"We call for his immediate release, we condemn any effort to seize power by force. We're actively engaged with the Niger government but also with partners in the region, and around the world, we'll continue to do so until the situation is resolved appropriately and peacefully."

Blinken expressed the American people's "deepest condolences" for the shooting in Auckland last week.

"Our hearts are with the victims, with the survivors, with their families, with the people of New Zealand. It's especially in difficult moments that we're reminded of the closeness of our friendship, a friendship that is rooted in common values and common interests and in the many connections between Americans and Kiwis.

"The United States as a Pacific nation is deeply committed to realising our shared vision for a free, open, prosperous, secure, resilient, connected Indo-Pacific."

That means rules being reached transparently and implemented fairly, goods being able to move freely, and was a shared vision between the US and New Zealand and many other countries in the region, he said.

"New Zealand has been a tremendous friend and leader on every issue of consequence in this region and well beyond, especially as the United States is working to revitalise our engagement with the Pacific Islands."

He highlighted the Blue Pacific initiative, the Pacific Islands Forum, and the US pledge of more than $800m for Pacific Island countries' development.

"With the Pacific on the front lines of the climate crisis, our two countries are working together to advance adaptation, to build resilience, to help other countries do the same. We're trying to unlock more climate financing and developing climate-smart agriculture."

Both New Zealand and the US stand ready to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, based on the same principles of the rules-based international order, Blinken said.

"The principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence ... and indeed against those who seek to undermine them or advance an alternative version anywhere in the world."

Blinken arrived in New Zealand after a stopover in Tonga to dedicate a new US embassy in Nuku'alofa.

His Wellington visit has coincided with a trip to the capital by Australia's prime minister Anthony Albanese.

Closed-door meetings involving Albanese, New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, Blinken and Mahuta are on the agenda before Blinken heads to Australia, which is jointly hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup with New Zealand.

Related Posts