New Zealand sees India as a “counterbalance to the superpower contest” in the region and wants to take bilateral ties to the next level to boost cooperation in diverse areas, from agriculture to education and security, said the New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in an interview on February 8.
Both India and New Zealand have been trying to revitalise their bilateral relationship since last year. Mahuta said that her discussions with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi focused on collaboration in climate action, especially in the Pacific, agriculture, research and technology, and meeting labour needs of the island country.
In October 2022, S. Jaishankar became the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit New Zealand since 2001, and three ministers from the island country – Mahuta, Food Safety Minister Meka Whaitiri and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor – have visited India since September 2022. These visits, Mahuta underlined, reflected a desire on both sides “to take the relationship to the next level”.
“India and New Zealand see ourselves as contributing…to a stable, prosperous and peaceful Indo-Pacific. What that means is we need to work hard together to ensure we uphold the international rules and norms that advocate for territorial integrity and sovereignty,” she said in response to a question on whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could trigger similar actions in other regions.