On November 4, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta gave her first major foreign policy speech on Aotearoa New Zealand’s policy in the Pacific. It was highly anticipated amongst Pacific watchers. Mahuta had signalled at the outset of her term that she intended to deliver a foreign policy distinct from that of her predecessor Winston Peters. At its core is New Zealand’s policy transition from the Pacific Reset, launched by Peters in 2018, to a Pacific Resilience partnership approach announced by Mahuta and laid out in a subsequently released Cabinet paper. Last Friday, the 'Partnering for Resilience' approach received its first international mention at the Australia-Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.
Since Mahuta was appointed foreign minister in late 2020, she has given a number of speeches that have sought to define her foreign policy agenda and approach. It is helpful to consider this latest speech in the context of earlier statements, notably Mahuta’s inaugural foreign policy speech at Waitangi, her dragon and the taniwha speech to the New Zealand China Council, and her address to the Otago Foreign Policy School. The common theme is the centrality of Te Tiriti o Waitangi to New Zealand’s foreign policy principles and praxis; and that New Zealand’s approach to the Pacific is anchored in New Zealand’s connections to Polynesia.