Unpicking the minister’s speech

Posted on 23 November 2021

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta gave her first major foreign policy speech recently on Aotearoa New Zealand’s policy in the Pacific. Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at Massey University unpicks the key points here.

  • The ‘Pacific Reset’ has shifted to ‘Pacific Resilience’
  • Using a whakatauāki, or proverb, Ka pū te rūhā, ka hāo te rangatahi (As the old net is cast aside a new net goes fishing) - the ‘Reset’ is building the net; ‘Resilience’ is learning how to utilise the net
  • Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi are central
  • The Pacific is the key focus
  • Five principles guide policy: Tātai Hono (the recognition of deep and enduring whakapapa connections); Tātou Tātou (all of us together); Whāia te Taumata Ōhanga (journey towards a circular economy); Turou Hawaiiki (navigating together); and Arongia ki Rangiātea (focus towards excellence)
  • Commitment to ‘Pacific ownership’ and a shift to localisation is a priority.

Lacking in the speech:

  • No references to ‘Pacific Regionalism’ (which has suffered a blow recently with splits at the Pacific Island Forum)
  • No mention of key regional concepts such as the ‘Blue Pacific’
  • The speech ‘was more vision than strategy’. How New Zealand will operationalise these commitments is not yet clear.

For those who were unable to watch Minister Mahuta’s address last week, here is a link to the speech, and a video including Q&AS that followed.