New Zealand: Can an indigenous foreign policy deliver?


By Nicholas Ross Smith & Bonnie Holster


New Zealand made headlines in 2021 after its Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, outlined an “indigenous foreign policy” for New Zealand guided by Māori principles. The main objective of this turn was that New Zealand would embrace a values-based approach to foreign policy making that emphasised kindness and reciprocity (manaaki), connectedness (whanaunga), collective benefits and shared aspiration (mahi tahi and kotahitanga) and stewardship of intergenerational wellbeing (kaitiaki). The cases of the Pacific and China are examined to gauge to what extent this indigenous foreign policy turn has had an impact. Despite it being too soon to make a fair judgement, the comparison of Sweden and its efforts to pursue a feminist foreign policy is brought in to shed light on some of the challenges New Zealand will face.