PM Address To The Link Foundation UK
Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister
ADDRESS TO The Link Foundation
The New Zealand/United Kingdom Relationship: History Challenged by Geography
Chatham House London
1.30 pm (Local Time UK)
Thursday 10 July 2003
“The relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom has been fashioned by history, but does it risk being pulled apart by geography? Does “where” we are matter more than “who” we are, and do forces such as global economic integration and international terrorism draw countries together or force us apart? These are the sorts of questions which Prime Minister, Helen Clark will look to address.”
New Zealand and the United Kingdom are two nations on opposite sides of the world. One lies geographically remote, and was among the last spots on earth to be settled by humans. The other is a country with a recorded history which goes back over two thousand years and human settlement which long precedes that. Yet, as two nations we have been and remain very close.
Today, my task is to talk about our relationship, the forces which have shaped it, and where it might be heading in the future. Have our respective re-orientations to our nearer neighbours, Europe for Britain and the Asia-Pacific for New Zealand changed us and our outlooks? And, whether they have or not, do the pressures facing the world today compel our close engagement based on shared values and aspirations.
Britain’s entry to the EU changed our economic relationship, and first the fall of Singapore, and then withdrawal east of Suez changed our security relationship. But bilateral relationships these days take many forms, including dialogue and co-operation on the critical international issues of our time. My hypothesis is that our relationship has stayed strong because it has adapted to new realities. Among those new realities are also the changing demography of New Zealand and the impact which one particular British legacy, the Treaty of Waitangi, is having on the relationship between the indigenous population and the state and other New Zealanders today.
Human history for New Zealand began with the arrival of the first wave of Maori seafarers some one thousand years ago. That was about half a millennium after the Romans left Britain. New Zealand’s link with Britain dates from Captain Cook’s first voyage in 1769. On that, and subsequent visits, he charted the coastline, documented flora and fauna, and left a mixed impression on the indigenous inhabitants. Cook wasn’t the first European to reach New Zealand. He was preceded by the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, but Cook was the first to land and lay claim.
European settlement in New Zealand began around 1790, associated with sealing, whaling, and associated trading, including in guns. Considerable lawlessness followed. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by the representatives of Queen Victoria and Maori from throughout most of New Zealand. The Treaty enabled the British to govern while purporting to guarantee Maori their fisheries, forests, and land, and rights of citizenship. It acknowledged the chieftainship of Maori and confirmed their place as the indigenous people of New Zealand. In 1852 when New Zealand was granted self-government, the European population numbered only around 28,000 predominantly British immigrants.
This brief overview has already highlighted important differences between New Zealand and Britain dictated both by history and by geography. New Zealand really is a young country, with a relatively brief history of Maori settlement, and a very short history of European settlement. It is also a sparsely populated country. To put that in context, the UK population is estimated to have reached between five and seven million in the year 1300. In an area slightly larger than the UK, New Zealand has just reached four million people. On current demographic trends the New Zealand population will never reach five million.
Great debate in Maoridom surrounded the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. Unfortunately, during the period of European settlement which followed, the Treaty was generally honoured more in the breach than in the observance. Land confiscations following land wars and squalid land deals deprived Maori of much of their land. The Treaty was all but forgotten by most New Zealanders, but Maori remained acutely aware of it.
Much changed from the 1970s. The Waitangi Tribunal was established, initially with only a limited mandate, to examine Treaty grievances. Then in the mid 1980s, the Tribunal was empowered to consider claims dating back to 1840. Ever since, New Zealand has been undergoing what equates to inquiry by a long running truth and reconciliation commission. Many claims have been filed with the Tribunal, many reports have been written, and many settlements have been entered into. The settlements generally consist of three components: an apology from the Crown; redress which recognises spiritual, cultural, historical and traditional associations; and financial contributions to rebuild the economic base of the claimant group.
The apology is an integral part of the settlement process, as it recognises the losses, resentment, and grief suffered by claimants as a result of the Crown’s Treaty breaches. This is a reconciliation process unique to New Zealand to deal with issues which are unique to our past. But the responsibilities attached to the Treaty are not all historical – it is a living document greatly influencing both the contemporary relationship between Maori and the state, and public debate. The government now endeavours to incorporate Maori perspectives in policy making as part of the evolving contemporary relationship.
The strong assertion of Maori perspectives and values, together with demographic trends, is changing the face of New Zealand. That makes it less familiar to those who used to think of the country as the Britain of the South Seas. New Zealand today is a nation built on a unique bicultural foundation which seeks to value all aspects of its heritage.
Perhaps this anecdote makes the point. Recently New Zealand recruited a sizeable number of police from Britain. At the end of their orientation course, television showed them performing a haka. That went beyond the symbolic. In a country where one in five primary school children is of Maori descent, the bobby on the beat cannot afford to operate in a cultural vacuum.
Military ties between New Zealand and the United Kingdom have, from the outset, been both a reflection of how New Zealanders saw themselves in the world, and a force shaping our sense of nationhood. New Zealand participation in the Boer War owed much to a sense of adventure among young men in the days before backpacking and Eurail passes. At the same time, there was a strong sense of duty and obligation towards the “mother country”, and an almost total identification with Imperial concerns.
This same unquestioning commitment was evident in World War One, the first time New Zealanders as a distinct group took on international responsibilities. Many of course, some of my forebears among them, were themselves British born. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in the Great War and a few thousand more at home: altogether over ten per cent of the population of one million at the time. The cost was high: of the 100,000, more than 18,100 were killed while serving overseas, and a further 41,000 were casualties. The military debacle which was Gallipoli, in particular, reinforced a growing sense of national identity, separate from, and not always in tune with a still strongly held commitment to all things British.
Despite the terrible toll, New Zealanders did not begrudge the involvement in either World War. These global conflicts were markers on our journey to nationhood which impacted on every facet of New Zealand life – from the economic to the political, and social. Although New Zealand’s borders were never directly threatened, and although much of the fighting took place on the other side of the world, there was never any doubt that we should be involved. We identified with and were prepared to support Britain and its allies.
The desire to help carried on after World War Two as the New Zealand government did everything it could to assist Britain. There was an element of self-interest; after all the United Kingdom was our largest market, but there was also self-sacrifice. Food rationing in New Zealand was continued in order to maximise our exports to the United Kingdom.
From the introduction of refrigeration in 1882, New Zealand had specialised in the provision of a small range of goods to a small range of countries. In the early 1950s, more than ninety per cent of New Zealand’s exports consisted of meat, wool and dairy produce, and nearly two-thirds of our exports came to Britain. Inevitably this affected New Zealand’s world outlook, as well as encouraging a certain sense of complacency. Commodity trade into the British market was the mainstay of the New Zealand economy which functioned like an off-shore farm for British consumers.
All that had to change when Britain entered the Common Market in 1973. That marked a turning point in the New Zealand/United Kingdom economic relationship, and more broadly. New Zealand did not oppose British entry. It accepted that times had changed, and that Britain could not, and should not, stand apart from the developing European Union. We set about the challenging task of diversifying our markets. As early as 1985, Britain was taking only nine per cent of our exports, compared to 36 per cent in 1970. Even today, however, the UK is our fourth largest export market, and remains very important for New Zealand, both for traditional products and for newer ones, like wine, new technology, and fashion goods.
Significant efforts went into developing new markets closer to home, and above all in Australia, Japan, and the United States. In 1965 the New Zealand/Australia Free Trade Agreement was signed, and then superseded in 1983 by the Closer Economic Relationship. Thirty years on from British entry into the Common Market, New Zealand has a much more balanced trading profile. Four key markets – Australia, the EU, the US and Japan – each account for around fifteen to twenty per cent of New Zealand trade. As global traders, New Zealanders have had to learn new skills and face new experiences; that in turn has reinforced a sense of national identity based as much on where we stand today as on our historical links.
Yet our historical links with the United Kingdom remain deep and abiding, based as they are on the culture and values British immigrants brought with them. We continue to draw on, and adapt that culture today, at a time when modern communications have far more impact than out-of-date newspapers arriving by sea and the occasional echoing phone call ever did. There is a high level of interaction between our governments and parliaments, as we wrestle with many common economic and social challenges.
In terms of culture, the strong contribution of British literature, poetry, and drama is not diminished by New Zealanders moving beyond imitation to the creation of vibrant works rooted in our own sense of being. I should add that tonight I shall be attending the UK premiere of “Whale Rider”, an outstanding New Zealand film which combines both a unique sense of place with an examination of universal themes.
New Zealand has benefited hugely from the skills and experience of British migrants. They have long entered every occupation, and at every level. But it has always been a two-way process. New Zealand returned the favour and our people have done very well in the United Kingdom in all walks of life, from the professions and business, to the arts and sport. We remain embedded in British universities, with a New Zealander, Professor Malcolm Grant, currently the pro Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge, and Dr John Hood of Auckland, going forward as the new Vice-Chancellor of Oxford. Alas, the only satisfaction we can take from our most recent rugby encounter is the conviction that the English team used tactics taught to them by New Zealanders.
But perhaps an even greater impact on the people to people relationship is made by the 150,000 New Zealanders who travel to the United Kingdom every year and by the more than 250,000 Britons who travel each year in our direction. Our shared heritage, the TV programmes we watch, and the books we read, mean that this country is remarkably familiar even to the first time visitor. Most New Zealanders travelling here are short term visitors, coming to see friends and family, or just to qualify for what is colloquially referred to as their OE.
Indeed the overseas experience of being based in Britain on a working holiday is one of the rites of passage of young New Zealanders, and around 7,000 access the UK working holiday scheme each year. For this reason we welcome the recent decision by the British government to free up work restrictions and raise the cut-off age of the Commonwealth Working Holidaymaker Scheme. This reflects the contribution New Zealanders on working holidays make to the British economy. In turn New Zealand welcomes the 9,000 young British citizens who come to New Zealand under a similar arrangement each year. Both our countries benefit when our people return home with expanded horizons and a better knowledge of each other.
There is little doubt that for the first period of European settlement of New Zealand, our history – the personal, political and economic links with Britain – shaped Pakeha New Zealanders to a greater extent than our geographic location at the far side of the world. Our people were proudly British, only more so. As Anthony Trollope wrote in 1873:
“The New Zealander admits the supremacy of England to every place in the world, only he is more English than any Englishman at home. He tells you that he has the same climate, - only somewhat improved, that he grows the same produce, - only with somewhat heavier crops; that he has the same beautiful scenery at his door, - only somewhat grander in its nature and more diversified in its details; that he follows the same pursuits, and after the same fashion, - but with less of misery, less of want, and a more general participation in the gifts which God has given to the country.”
Many new immigrants adapted to New Zealand’s environment by treating it as though they were in a new county in the Midlands, rather than in a new country on the other side of the world. Not surprisingly, they sought to impose the familiar, renaming, reshaping, and remaking the country in the image of the one they had left behind. Others sought to make it more exotic than it really was, seeing Maori as a romantic element in a primeval landscape. The reality today is a blend which makes the heart of any returning Kiwi beat faster; on the way home from the airport, you may see the average black and white cow in the field to the left, but those nikau palm trees behind it have a silhouette which has to be New Zealand.
Indeed the geography of our respective regions couldn’t be more different. We are 12,000 miles apart, almost as far away from each other as it is possible to get. Britain’s nearest neighbour, France, is some thirty miles away across the English Channel. New Zealand’s closest neighbour is New Caledonia, 1100 miles away. Australia across the Tasman Sea is 1,300 miles distant.
A 1,000 mile circle drawn out from Wellington encompasses only a spattering of uninhabited islands and vast amounts of ocean. The same size circle centred on London would encompass Ireland to the west, touch Iceland to the north, include Poland and Hungary in the east, and in the south reach the Mediterranean off the coast of Algeria. In between those countries you have the entire European continent of around 450 million people. Within our circle there only are the four million New Zealanders. We have very different neighbourhoods.
It was the events of World War Two which brought home to New Zealand the reality of its location, and marked a turning point in the relationship with Britain. The fall of Singapore meant that Britain could not guarantee our security. With the opening of a Pacific front in December 1941, the United States became a close partner in the defence of the region. Then as the conflict drew to a close New Zealand was active in the creation of the United Nations, where its experience as a small country with a strong sense of commitment to the world community led it to be a strong proponent of multi-lateralism and to oppose the great power veto on the Security Council.
Post war, New Zealand’s ties with Australia, which were always strong, broadened, and together with the United States a security pact, ANZUS, was agreed. Then, as new arrangements and institutions developed in the Asia Pacific, New Zealand became associated with them. From involvement in first SEATO and then the Five Power Defence Arrangement, to founding membership of the Pacific Island Forum, to being a regional dialogue partner with ASEAN and a participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum on security issues: to active engagement in APEC, New Zealand has become very engaged with its immediate region. In a sense this is a mirror image of Britain’s engagement with Europe, with, however, the significant difference that our immediate region contains a far greater diversity of ethnicity, religion, and form of government than does the European Union.
Does the immersion of each of our countries in the affairs of our own regions mean our relationship is of less importance today? From New Zealand’s perspective, the answer must be absolutely not. We are like-minded nations, linked by history, heritage, culture, and language, as well as common value systems, similar democratic and legal systems, and a shared sense of purpose in building a more inclusive, tolerant, and prosperous world. This means that, more often than not we are likely to respond in similar ways to the issues and problems confronting the international community. And so we have on issues as diverse as terrorism, sustainable development, and the WTO Round, perhaps because we both see the way in which these issues intersect and connect.
11 September was a sombre rallying point for the international community – we were united by shock and grief. Out of the ruins there was a hope that a new sense of community would arise, which could bridge the divides between the west and the developing world, between religious convictions, and between ethnic groups. Poverty, misunderstanding, and resentment create the context in which terrorists thrive. We shouldn’t overlook the remarkable progress which has since been made in the implementation of new counter terrorism measures around the world, but greater international co-operation is still required including on development, and some long-standing disputes, like the Israeli-Palestinian one, need to be resolved if we are to deal effectively with the problem of terrorism.
New Zealand has put a lot of effort into ensuring its compliance with all the Security Council Resolutions and UN counter-terrorism conventions. We are also working with the small nations of the Pacific to assist them to meet their international obligations. The burden of compliance is heavy and there are serious capacity issues for small countries with limited resources. Yet terrorist organisations will exploit a security vacuum, and money laundering and passport fraud are the tools of trade for such groups.
In August New Zealand is hosting the Pacific Island Forum which brings New Zealand and Australia together with the Pacific Island nations. We look forward to welcoming the British Government representative, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Bill Rammel, to the post-Forum Dialogue. We are keen to see Britain remain interested and engaged in the Pacific.
Disarmament is a critical element of New Zealand’s approach to international security. We have a long history of active participation in efforts to achieve the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and to enforce a ban on chemical and biological weapons. But the risks are changing and new approaches are needed. The threshold for the acquisition of such weapons technologies is lower than ever, and in the age of the suicide bomber, no long range delivery vehicle is needed to cause devastation. The challenge for the international community is dealing with both countries and terrorist organisations which operate outside the international treaty system and are not deterred by the usual sanctions.
If we are to deal with the underlying causes of instability, then the benefits of growth and development have to be spread. The current British Government has been a tremendous champion of development and of the benefits which a successful WTO Doha Round would bring. Yet the Doha story to date has been one of missed opportunities and missed deadlines, and the WTO Ministerial meeting in Cancun is marching closer.
New Zealand’s top priority for the Doha Round is to get fair trade rules established for agriculture. We do stand to benefit more from liberalisation in this area than any other developed country, but by far the most benefit overall will go to developing countries. Indeed the developing countries have made it clear that without movement on agriculture, there cannot be a successful Round.
I know that I am preaching to the converted in Britain when I point out that agriculture has long been discriminated against in world trade rules. Export subsidies for non-agricultural goods have been prohibited since the beginning of the GATT in the late 1940s, but are still permitted in agriculture. The global average agriculture tariff is 62 per cent, and much agricultural trade is still limited by import quotas. Conversely, the global average tariff on industrial products is four per cent, and import quotas for such products have essentially been abolished.
Agricultural trade rules remain a very sensitive issue in Europe, and New Zealand, and the EU are often at opposite ends of the debate about them. I can only repeat that getting rid of distortions in international agricultural trade is widely recognised as one of the most effective ways of enabling the developing world to participate more fairly in the world economy. Of course liberalising agricultural trade is difficult for those countries which have traditionally protected their agriculture. We believe that those costs must be weighed up against the long-term benefits in the current uncertain global environment. For these reasons we have been watching closely the debate over CAP Reform. The recent decisions are an important step along the road to a more rational and effective agricultural policy for Europe. We hope they will enable the European Union to play its part in moving the Doha Agenda forward at Cancun.
Britain and New Zealand are also at one in believing that there can be no long term benefit from growth based on low environment standards. We have both ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and look forward to Russian ratification so that the Protocol can come into force. We have both committed to sustainable development and to ensuring that the benefits of growth are more widely shared among nations.
Without peace and stability, development and human rights cannot flourish. New Zealand last year marked its fiftieth anniversary of contributions to United Nations peace-keeping operations, and we have participated in other multinational forces, including in the Sinai since the multi-national force there was established.
We are currently engaged in twelve peace-keeping operations, spanning five continents including Europe. In Bosnia our contingent is attached to the British element of the Stabilisation Force, and we have also worked closely with British forces in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.
Recently I announced additional New Zealand contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and to humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. We have been continuously involved in operations against terrorist groups in Afghanistan since late 2001. It is now time to contribute further to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. New Zealand will be leading one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams which are designed to assist the transitional government expand its influence outside Kabul through enhancing security and promoting reconstruction.
The decision to send a New Zealand Defence Force engineering group to work on reconstruction tasks in southern Iraq was based on our conviction that there now needs to be maximum international engagement to restore Iraq’s sovereignty. New Zealand did not support the decision to wage war on Iraq, but has always been prepared to give a helping hand in the post-conflict stage, with the appropriate multilateral cover. Security Council Resolution 1483 passed in May makes it clear that the UN should play a vital role in Iraq and that member states can help with humanitarian relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation, and security, without themselves being considered occupying powers. It is in all our interests that the international community responds to the call to assist, and New Zealand has. Incidentally, the New Zealand engineers will work alongside British units. Given our size we need to work with others, and the United Kingdom is a natural choice for us, given our past joint endeavours.
New Zealand as a small nation depends on the international rule of law. This is behind our belief in the multilateral system, for trade, for the environment, and for security. Dealing with Iraq has been a challenge for all countries and for the multilateral system.
The outline to this speech asked two questions in relation to the New Zealand/United Kingdom relationship: does where we are matter more than who we are, and do forces such as global economic integration and international terrorism draw countries together or force us apart? The unequivocal answer to the first is no – who we are determines the nature of the relationship we will enjoy. The underlying set of values that we hold – respect for human rights, belief in the rule of law, commitment to multi-lateralism, and a liberal democratic tradition, is shred by Britain. Our common value base makes us natural allies. When combined with the ties of history and kinship, the inevitability of friendship is compelling.
But where we are matters too. New Zealand’s geography and location has done much to shape its national character. Isolation has made us robust and self-sufficient, while a South Pacific flavour is increasingly reflected in our popular culture. Our priorities are sometimes determined by regional considerations, and our decisions do not invariably follow those of our oldest friends.
The geographic separation between New Zealand and Britain has led to different outlooks, and it is only natural that we both devote considerable energy to understanding and engaging with the countries around each of us. Rather than diminish the relationship, it adds value. We are able to bring these insights to the table and learn from each other.
All of this means that our relationship is not static. It is not the same now as it was at the turn of the century, and it won’t be the same a century from now. It will evolve, and I believe it will continue to be strong.
One important change I should flag is legislation currently before the New Zealand Parliament to establish a Supreme Court rather than continuing to use the Privy Council in London as the final appeal court. New Zealand is one of only a handful of Commonwealth countries still using the Privy Council. Although there is no link between New Zealand’s decision on the Privy Council and plans in Britain to replace the Law Lords with a Supreme Court, it serves as a useful reminder that the legal system is not set in stone. Institutions need to evolve to reflect the society they represent. For the United Kingdom, that increasingly involves taking account of decisions made by the European Union. For New Zealand, it is appropriate that we repatriate our highest court.
An important principle of New Zealand’s foreign policy has been to build new links without neglecting old friends. This is something my Government has worked hard at. The fact of my being here for a second visit in only two and a half months is a perfect example. In between I had the pleasure of talking to the Rt Hon Geoff Hoon in New Zealand. I am here now to join Prime Minister Tony Blair and other like-minded leaders at an important summit. As New Zealand Prime Minister I very much value the opportunities afforded by the Progressive Governance network to touch base and test ideas with other leaders who share common values.
The warmth of the reception New Zealand
Prime Ministers invariably receive in Britain leaves us in
no doubt about the value of the relationship. I can
personally attest to that. Although there are bound to be
instances where we will disagree in the future, the true
test of friendship is whether they can be dealt with calmly
and carefully. Many challenges, in addition go geography,
have been put in the way of our relationship since 1769. We
have met them all, and the relationship is as strong now as
it ever was. I cannot imagine a time when that will not be