New Zealand next for high-flying Wong

Australia and New Zealand’s foreign ministers will meet in Wellington this week as the allies consider the future of the trans-Tasman relationship.

Penny Wong will make the trip to New Zealand for a one-day visit on Thursday, meeting with her Kiwi counterpart Nanaia Mahuta.

Ms Mahuta said the talks would be an “opportunity for new conversations on ways to advance our partnership”, particularly on the region’s “number one security issue … of climate change”.

“I look forward to talking to the new foreign minister in more detail on Australia’s climate change agenda, and further ways we can assist Pacific Island nations on mitigation and adaptation measures,” she said.

The meeting comes after a similar prime ministerial meet-and-greet between Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern last week in Sydney.

Following that meeting, Ms Ardern claimed a reset of the relationship, and an listening ear to New Zealand’s longstanding concerns over deportations.

“That is a significant shift in the language that we have had from previous Australian governments … never have I have seen anyone even willing to take a look before,” Ms Ardern said.

The foreign ministers’ meeting preceeds the Pacific Islands Forum leaders gathering in Fiji, scheduled for July 12-14, where regional security will be on the agenda.

“On broader Pacific challenges, Aotearoa New Zealand seeks to elevate the Pacific Island voice, and support collaboration and partnership through established institutions, especially the Pacific Islands Forum,” Ms Mahuta said.

New Zealand and Australia are eager to dissuade Pacific nations away from signing regional security tie-ups with China, fearful that those agreements may lead to a militarisation of the blue continent.

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