Election 2017: NZ political parties' position on regional security

How should New Zealand respond to tensions in Asia, such as disputes in the South China Sea, terrorism, cyber-security, and North Korean nuclear and missile development?

Greens divider

Green Party

"New Zealand is a small country, without reach and or military capability on the international stage. We can best use our influence to promote dialogue and negotiations, based on United Nations principles and the rule of law, at ASEAN, as well as other multilateral fora. New Zealand has a huge role to play in supporting regional efforts to combat human trafficking and support a human rights-based approach to migration and refugee flows in the Asia-Pacific."

Labour divider

Labour Party

[*Editor’s note: Labour responded to questions in this feature by referring the Asia Media Centre to its 2017 party manifesto and other publicity material.]

Excerpts from the Foreign Affairs section of the NZ Labour Party Manifesto 2017:

"Labour will:

  • Further develop our strategic relationships in keeping with the evolving multipolar world, strengthening relationships with our traditional allies and developing our newer ones
  • Reinvigorate our commitment to multilateralism and participate fully in the reform of multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations
  • Develop and pursue a reform agenda to respond to the excessive use of the veto power of permanent members of the Security Council, which has frustrated international responses to conflicts such as that in Syria, including:
    • Whether the scope of Security Council resolutions which are able to be vetoed should be narrowed
    • Consideration of whether General Assembly mechanisms should be broadened
    • The pros and cons of autonomous sanctions, given the ineffectiveness of the Security Council”

“Labour will:

  • Enhance New Zealand’s specialist capability as a peace-builder in the Asia-Pacific region drawn from our diplomatic, military, and aid agencies.
    • This will draw on New Zealanders’ experience in mediation and conflict resolution, peace-keeping, and post-conflict state building further develop expertise and common protocols in conflict resolution across different agencies and ministries explore the development of a rapid reaction disaster response capability to be deployed at short notice in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Maori divider

Māori Party

"Any dispute in the world has potential challenges for New Zealand. The Māori Party would hope that the tensions in Asia, particularly those related to nuclear and missile development, are resolved amicably and without the use of force."

National divider

National Party

"New Zealand’s prosperity and security are increasingly anchored in the Asia-Pacific region so we will continue working alongside partners to counter terrorism and the growth of regional extremism.

Growing strategic competition in the Asia-Pacific region and the evolving dynamic between the United States and China will have significant implications for the stability of the region, and is something we will continue paying close attention to.

The South China Sea may be some distance from New Zealand, but, similar to other countries, over half of our trade passes through this area. We have a direct interest in how tensions are managed and miscalculations avoided.

We will continue to call on the parties involved to manage the situation peacefully, and will continue to support initiatives, including a comprehensive ASEAN-China Code of Conduct on the South China Sea to manage tensions.

We support an international rules-based system, which provides clear incentives to manage maritime and territorial disputes peacefully.

We will continue to call on North Korea to come to the table and resume respectful dialogue with other nations, and we stand ready to do what we can to facilitate that dialogue.

We welcomed a United Nations Security Council Resolution which strengthened sanctions on North Korea, and the National-led Government consistently condemns North Korea’s illegal and dangerous missile tests, which threaten regional stability.

New Zealand works with several international partners to improve global counter-terrorism capability. We do this through policy, legislation and practical initiatives that help prevent terrorist financing, violent extremism, radicalisation and recruitment.

Countering terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region is very important to New Zealand's national security. We support other countries in their efforts to work against violent extremism and radicalisation, and prevent recruitment to terror groups."

NZFirst divider

New Zealand First

“The ongoing situation of preparation for nuclear capability in North Korea is alarming. The nature of North Korea’s brinkmanship has only one option – the use of nuclear weaponry. Given its almost total dependence on China, the practical influence that can be brought to bear now is from China – where 97 percent of your trade is with one country that dependence has a price, and China should ask North Korea to meet it.

New Zealand First believes in promoting diplomacy as the first option to resolve international conflict, with the use of military force only a final resort when all other means have been exhausted.”


This is one of four questions on Asia foreign policy the Asia Media Centre posed to New Zealand political parties. Read the rest of our Election 2017 feature here.

– Asia Media Centre


All responses by the parties have been published verbatim – the Asia Media Centre has not changed terminology used.