The head of the New Zealand First Party says the leaking of emails contemptuous of NZ’s role in global diplomacy shows the country has not invested enough in its international presence.
WikiLeaks has made public thousands of emails from American intelligence group Stratfor, an organisation once known as the “shadow CIA”.
In the emails, senior members of the think-tank are dismissive of New Zealand, with one describing it as “a piece of real estate of (no) particular importance”.
New Zealand First’s Winston Peters has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat it is a different picture from the one painted by New Zealand governments.
“What it does show is that New Zealand, contrary to what it has been saying from successive governments about punching above our weight and the various statements that are made as a matter of national pride simply has not done as well as we should have,” he said.
“And that’s one of the problems. I mean you go back 40 years, where we were sort of number two or number three in the world economically, we would not be in this conversation.
“So the total picture of it of the slide of the country economically and then I think a failure to have put enough investment into his international presence which clearly is the case as we speak now.”
Mr Peters, a former foreign minister, says New Zealand and Australia remain the most influential countries in the Pacific, but New Zealand has always struggled to gain broader recognition from the US.
“You would have to a fool as a New Zealander not to realise that something was untoward,” he said.
“As a foreign minister, I did my best to identify why it should be there, because amongst other things, there was a serious lack of understanding of the part of the Americans when it came to New Zealand’s historic contribution to issues of freedom and democracy.
“And we got to two wars two years before them on both occasions didn’t we? And we were involved in all sorts of wars all over the world where we’re miles and miles from our national interest and I think that Americans need to be reminded of that, and the number of people per capita that died here in those wars was actually astronomical, given the geographic distance from where we were engaged.”