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.