Ardern’s Pacific ‘reset’ tour

A month ago Jacinda Ardern went on a tour of Samoa, Niue, Tonga and Rarotonga in the nearby South Pacific, in what was promoted as ‘a reset’ with Pacific island relations.

Newsroom previewed the tour: Ardern leads ‘Pacific Reset’ tour

A “Pacific reset” for New Zealand’s foreign policy is on the way, with Jacinda Ardern leading a delegation around the Pacific this week to hear about the big issues facing the countries.

Ardern’s first foreign policy speech last week focused more on the Pacific than any other part of the world, as she spoke of New Zealand’s long and well-established ties, as well as its duty to act on the threat of climate change in the region.

“We can do better, and we will.”

It was followed up by Peters’ pledge for a “Pacific reset” in a major speech of his own in Sydney.

He outlined the Government’s view of a shared Pacific destiny, speaking of increased aid and “back to basics diplomacy”.

That diplomacy starts this week, with Ardern, Peters and a bevy of ministers and MPs heading around Samoa, Tonga, Niue and the Cook Islands for the annual Pacific mission.

This push for greater engagement appears to come from a genuine passion for the Pacific from the Government, and what it sees as an opportunity to improve on its predecessor’s performance.

veutoviper has posted a useful summary of this tour at The Standard, as reported by Stuff’s Henry Cooke. This illustrates good diplomacy and foreign relations, and also good reporting.

Here are links to all ten of the articles Henry Cooke did as he accompanied the five day Parliamentary Mission to the Pacific which were published progressively by Stuff on their website over that timeframe. In sequence, these ten articles by Henry Cooke were:

1. A preliminary scene-setting one written before the visit started, detailing the bigger picture issues relevant to the relationships etc between NZ and the Pacific islands, and anticipated achievements from the trip:

2. An article specifically on climate change and its effects on Samoa, speeches given by our PM and Climate Change Minister James Shaw to an audience of Samoan MPs and officials at a climate change luncheon, and their visits to local spots showing the effects of climate change:

3. Another article specifically on the donations to Samoa announced by the PM of $3 million more in disaster recovery aid and $6.5m in development funds for small businesses run by women and young people:

4. A final article on Samoa on the hospitality and celebrations that took place; climate change; and the aid announcements:

5. and 6. Two articles on the one day visit to Niue – One on the aid assistance announced, which included $5m for another solar panels farm to help Niue reach their goal of 80% renewable energy by 2025; and the second a lighter one focusing in part on the PM’s reunion with her family in Niue:

7. One article on Tonga covering aid including emergency relief for the cyclone Gita damage and the visit itself, which included the delegation seeing this damage first hand:

8. and 9. Two articles on the visit to the Cook Islands – One specifically on the biggest announcement of the whole trip on the relaxation of the rules for the payment of NZ Superannuation to Niueans, Cook Islanders and Tokelauans, and the other on the very colourful and friendly visit itself, but which also includes further discussion on the relaxed NZ Super rules:

10. And finally, Henry Cooke’s wrap up article summarizing what was achieved by the visit itself, and also looking at the bigger, longer term issues:

Cooke’s summary:

As Ardern was quick to point out in her final media stand-up of the trip, this was still in many ways a listening and promising tour, not a delivery one, other than with the pension changes. As with many things in this Government, the real record will be in the delivery.

So how will that delivery look? A lot more investment instead of aid, as the leaders kept talking about. A managed transition out of developed nation status for the Cook Islands. A proper change in climate change policy.

Peters also motioned towards the biosecurity problems that stop us importing much fruit from these islands, which he said was put in the “too hard basket” and needs to be fixed. The metaphor is apt: plenty of the problems the Pacific faces have been chucked into the too-hard basket. For this reset to work the whole thing is going to have to be emptied out.



Leave a comment


  1. sorethumb

     /  2nd April 2018

    Samoa’s Prime Minister believes that if people stopped looking at Chinese as people buying into Samoa and more at the positive and collective benefits to the economy, then it would be clear that they are only in the country to help.

    The National party of Samoa is in power?

  2. David

     /  2nd April 2018

    ” promoted as ‘a reset’ with Pacific island relations.”

    Did she give them a big red button?

  3. NOEL

     /  2nd April 2018

    Only item that came out of that was that is if you were from Rarotonga and Niue you didn’t have to return to mainland New Zealand to pick up your pension. Strange how every other New Zealander can’t buy a holiday home in either of those islands.

  4. Gerrit

     /  2nd April 2018

    Is Fiji not in the south pacific? Seems to be an oversight or is the socialist leaning NZL leadership not as concerned as their international peers.

    First torture and quelled civil rights are ignored in Fiji and the Fijian government is looking Northwards.

    “Moreover, the local imperialist powers, Australia and New Zealand, have never been concerned about democratic rights in Fiji. After the 2006 coup, fearing that political instability in the region would open the door to China and other countries, wide-ranging international sanctions were imposed. This backfired, with Bainimarama gaining aid and investment from Beijing under his “look north” policy.”

    And now Russian arms shipments are arriving

    “Radio New Zealand Pacific affairs correspondent Michael Field reported on January 22 that the size of the consignment was disputed, but was estimated at between 20 and 27 container loads. Field said the materiel was rumoured to include a helicopter, heavy weaponry and new generation Kalashnikov assault rifles. According to the Guardian, the gifted weapons will be followed next month by Russian military personnel to act as “trainers” for the new arsenal.”

    All very well to do light weight tours of the “easy” and “dependent upon NZL” south pacific island, but will Winston peters step up and talk about the Northern influence on Fijian and other South Pacific strategic entities?


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