Borders and Battles: How Trade and Security have intertwined to define the United States-New Zealand relationship, from 1940 to 2014

AuthorRachael Harris
PositionWashington Congressional Internee 2012 in the Office of Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)
R H*
I. I
is year marks the centenary of the dening global conict of the early
21st Century, the First World War. It is tting at this time to consider our
contemporary defence arrangements, our allies, and our global friends, and
how these relationships have been formed. New Zealand a nd the United
States as Pacic neighbours have always had a close relationship, one based
predominately on mutual security ties throug hout the latter half of the 20th
Century and the begi nning of the 21st. While Americ a has always considered
security policy to be the most crucia l facet of the US-NZ relationship, New
Zealand, on the other hand, ha s considered trade strategy as a more and more
important factor in dening relations w ith our largest Pacic neighbour. is
paper explores in three parts how secu rity and defence, and trade are the most
important characterising policy factors of the New Zealand-United States
(NZ-U S) relat ionship.
e rst section will expla in how historically, security concerns have
underpinned the NZ-US relationship from the Second World War to the
disintegration of the ANZUS pact in 1985. e American ‘Invasion’ of New
Zealand in 1942 saw the beginning of the modern relationship, with the
two nations forced together against a common enemy. is pattern would
continue through to the Korean and Vietnam con icts, when New Zealand
and America found themselves as st aunch allies in the ght aga inst National
Socialism, Fascism, and Communism. A rising from this shared military
engagement, the ANZUS pact was formed. e New Z ealand-United States
relationship, however, would be aected forever with the annulment of
this pact due to the anti-nuclear crusade of the fourt h Labour government.
During this period, A merica’s focus on security and defence would continue
to dene the NZ-US relationship.
e second section of this paper plots the track of the relationship in the
1990s and early 2000s. It will show how agai n security and defence remained
a crucial part of the A merican approach to New Zealand, despite the rise
of trade to the forefront of the New Zealand foreign relations agenda. For
the National governments of the 1990s, hard-won diplomatic yards were
* Washington Cong ressional Internee 2012 in the Oc e of Senator Max Baucus (D- MT). e
author wishes to th ank the University of Canter bury School of Law, the USNZ Counci l and
the team at the Ne w Zealand Embass y in Washington D.C.
side-lined by the anti-nuclear policy beloved by the nation. e early 2000s
would see the relationship stalled aga in by New Zealand’s refusal to enter the
Iraq War. e failure of the fth Labour government to secure a Free Trade
Agreement with the United States will be shown to be a direct consequence
of the Clark administration’s approach to key security issues.
e third section will jump to the contemporary st ate of the relationship –
described by those in power as ‘the new normal’. Crucially, trade and security
have merged even more closely in the form of the Trans Pacic Partnership
(TPP) agreement. e TPP, although controversial domestically in both
New Zealand and t he United States for a number of factors, will allow New
Zealand acce ss to the trading markets it has been striving towards for years.
For America, the TPP is a crucial pa rt of its ‘rebalance’ towards Asia, its
strategy to combat the rise of China a s a world super power. It will be shown
that the TPP is a culmination of the two policy factors that each nation gives
primacy – trade and security. is paper will conclude with a hope that as
New Zealand becomes pa rt of America’s security and defence strateg y against
the rise of China, New Zea land will nally get its wish, and that there will
be trade payos for our Pacic Island nation. Concerns will a lso be raised
regarding New Zea land’s potential future security obligations as a result of
the TPP.
II. ‘B C’  F  N M
B – T N Z  – U S S 
R   – 
From 1940 onwards, the New Zealand-United States relationship has
been dened by two key geopolitical i nuences – trade and security. Security,
in particular, has always been a crucial inuence; indeed the modern
relationship between New Zealand and the United States of America was
born out of World War II, a security crisis that was to cha nge the world for
ever. As Pacic neighbours, the two open democracies were thru st together
on a worldwide scale for the rst signicant time when faced with a common
enemy – the Japanese. After the battle of Pearl Harbour in December 1941,
the Japanese had:1
…complete control of the Pacic for four month s, during which time t hey conquered
the greater par t of the East Indies, the Phil ippines, and New Guinea, and kept t he Allies
guessing a s to (their) next objective.
e war in the Pacic was a very rea l concern to both the US and New
Zealand, and both nations were required to act to protect their security
1 Harry Biolet ti e Yanks are Coming: e Ame rican Invasion of New Zeala nd 1942-1944
(Century Hutchi nson Ltd, Auckland, 1989) at 20.

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