A different approach: Nanaia Mahuta sets out her vision for New Zealand's foreign policy.

AuthorMahuta, Nanaia

At Waitangi, the recognised birthplace of Aotearoa New Zealand, we acknowledge 180 years of treaty partnership between the indigenous Maori inhabitants and the British settlers who arrived here. The strengths and achievement of New Zealand have been born out of the richness of diversity represented in that partnership, by all of us working together to create the country we are today.

The past year has been unprecedented for us all impacting in very different ways including the diplomatic corps as we try to comprehend the challenges presented by the global pandemic. Our respective nations have been caught in the same storm and we have looked to each other and drawn from our experiences to help navigate our way through. We are not there yet. But we do know that only by working together will we hope to beat Covid-19. This year our continued vigilance is required as we continue to work through our response. We continue to learn that collaboration, agility, care, communication and acting for the common good are absolutely necessary.

Treaty foundation

I am reminded that the expectation imbued in our founding document sets out the framework between the Crown and Maori for mana (respect and authority) to be recognised and kawanatanga (governance) to be exercised in a manner that would affirm tino rangatiratanga (sovereign authority) so that all people can prosper. The principles of partnership and mutual respect embodied in the Treaty provide the foundation for how New Zealand can conduct its foreign policy.

Our Treaty experience has taught lessons about managing and creating enduring relationships. Embracing differing world views can assist to address the complex issues of social exclusion, civil and racial unrest, inequity and poverty. The pathway to finding solutions in the international domain can be rocky, just as reconciliation here has had its challenges, twists and turns.

We understand that a societal culture based on shared understanding, the blending of different perspectives and diversity of thought and actions taken towards nation-building are important building blocks for peace and prosperity. The same is true, I believe, for diplomacy. Outcomes will be stronger and more enduring if they are built through dialogue, shared understanding and taking account of a range of diverse perspectives.

Aotearoa New Zealand's identity is drawn from our Polynesian heritage. I call it 'tirohanga Maori', or a Maori world view, with its vibrant culture and deep affinity with the natural world. Then there are the Western institutions on which our country is founded that align New Zealand internationally.

As New Zealand has grown to understand its unique and independent identity, so, too, has our sense of responsibility. We can offer a mature approach to dialogue aimed at progressing regional and global priorities which is born from a cultural perspective. It is my intention to take a values-based approach to foreign policy and work collectively in pursuit of our core interests, which include:

* defending an international rules-based order which gives all countries a voice and provides frameworks that promote stability;

* keeping New Zealanders safe by promoting regional stability;

* promoting international conditions and connections that aid our prosperity, including supply chain resilience; and,

* encouraging global action on sustainability issues such as climate change where solutions depend on international co-operation.

Upholding special responsibilities in the realm and Antarctica are also core elements of our foreign policy.

We are in Te Pewhairangi--the Bay of Islands--the place where the signing of New Zealand's first international treaty occurred. It confirms our enduring commitment to the importance of international rules and institutions. Kororareka-Russell reminds us that it was a staging post for some of New Zealand's earliest international trade relations. We each have our own story but the institutions, rules, trade conditions and relationships form the foundation of our foreign policy.

Values-based approach

As the first indigenous woman to lead this portfolio, I believe we have a prime opportunity to call...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT