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Cablegate: Pm Clark's Marks Independence Day: Nz Media Reports

VZCZCXRO1323
RR RUEHNZ
DE RUEHWL #0512/01 1880303
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 070303Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2983
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 0822

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000512

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/PD-AGRIMES, EAP/P-K BAILES, EAP/ANP-DRICCI, INR/R/MR

E.O. 12985: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KPAO KMDR OPRC PREL NZ
SUBJECT: PM CLARK'S MARKS INDEPENDENCE DAY: NZ MEDIA REPORTS

1. SUMMARY: At the Embassy's July 4 reception, Prime Minister
Clark's gave a speech that described the bilateral relationship as
"of fundamental importance to our country and one which we greatly
value". She stressed our shared values and expressed her desire for
the relationship to "continue to grow and develop". Her comments
were widely reported by the New Zealand media.

The country's media have also been considering the significance of
the Prime Minister's attendance at the Embassy's Independence Day
function for the first time in her seven years as PM. Commentators
describe her participation as "purposeful" and intended as a
"goodwill gesture." END SUMMARY.

PRIME MINISTER CLARK DESCRIBES THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP AND SHARED
VALUES

2. Audio aired on Radio New Zealand's influential, flagship
breakfast program, Morning Report on July 5, had Prime Minister
Clark noting values that are shared by New Zealand and the United
States.
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT: For us it is also a day when New Zealanders can
reaffirm the strong friendship we have with the United States. We
share the values of freedom and democracy which are being celebrated
her this evening-and we do have a long history of working together
for a free, democratic, secure and prosperous world. END
TRANSCRIPT.
3. The (07/05/06) capital-based Dominion Post (the country's second
largest circulation daily newspaper) characterized the speech as
follows.
BEGIN TEXT: Prime Minister Helen Clark said July 4 was a day for New
Zealanders to reaffirm "our strong friendship" with the US. She
spoke of the long history of working together toward a free and
prosperous world. END TEXT.
4. The country's largest circulation daily, the (07/05/06)
Auckland-based New Zealand Herald, added:
BEGIN TEXT: A jovial Helen Clark received a warm welcome at the US
Embassy's colorful Wellington bash, where she delivered a short but
positive speech emphasizing the bright side of New Zealand's
relationship with the United States.
"New Zealand and the United States have worked alongside each other
in many conflicts from World War One on," Helen Clark said.
"Our servicemen and women are cooperating today in Afghanistan to
help restore stability there and give development a chance, as well
as to counter terrorism."
The Prime Minister then went on to say that New Zealand's
relationship with the United States "is of fundamental importance to
our country, and one which we greatly value".
"I know it will continue to grow and develop in the 21st century as
it has in the past." END TEXT.

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MEDIA AND OTHERS CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANCE ON THE PM's ATTENDANCE.

5. Radio New Zealand reporting predicted that the United States
would welcome "Helen Clark's goodwill gesture" and reported that the
gesture even enjoyed qualified support from her political
Opposition.
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT: It is a sentiment that National's Deputy Gerry
Brownlee has...sympathy for. While describing it as 'interesting'
that it was Helen Clark's first appearance at Independence Day
celebrations in 7 years he believes that there is clearly a thawing
in relations. END TRANSCRIPT.
6. The New Zealand Herald article headed "Party guest on more than a
social visit" (07/05/06) said the PM's attendance was intended to
send a signal.

BEGIN TEXT: However, while her office was keen to play down any
significance in her appearance it is difficult to read the Prime
Minister's move as anything other than purposeful - albeit small.
END TEXT.

7. Both television networks agreed. TV3's political editor noted "It
won't be lost on the Americans that Helen Clark has taken the time
to attend these celebrations" (07/04) and TVNZ's political editor
adding his opinion "...it is significant that she hasn't been before
and is now attending this Fourth of July and there have been some
signs of a thawing in the relationship." (07/04)

8. Three days later (07/07/06) TVNZ continued to highlight the
significance with their political editor, Guyon Espiner, saying:
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT: Well you bring it back to human relations. If your
friend has a birthday party and you don't show, you can say well we
are still friends- I just didn't turn up. But turning up means
something doesn't it? And international relations are the same. It's
the same when you greet someone -- do you give them a kiss on the
cheek, do you hug them, do you shake their hand- those are gestures
that we have in our relations with other people are the same with
countries and of course it means something if you turn up for the
first time. She wanted to make that known- they would have
appreciated it. These things get written down and cabled over to
Washington- of course they mean something. END TRANSCRIPT.
9. The July 4 edition of the Dominion Post ran an article entitled

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"Clark flies July 4 truce flag" in which they reported:
BEGIN TEXT: Prime Minister Helen Clark, in what appears to be a
goodwill gesture, is likely to attend Independence Day celebrations
organized by the United States embassy. END TEXT.
However the following day they reported "[The PM] was able to attend
this year's celebrations because she was not taking her normal
winter holiday during the two-week parliamentary recess."
10. (SBU) Embassy Officers confirm that it is rare for the New
Zealand Prime Minister to attend any foreign country's national day
event. We understand from GNZ sources that Clark's office has played
down her attendance and repeatedly referred to her very full diary
in order to avoid setting expectations that she will attend other
national day functions. They also want to make clear that her usual
non-attendance is not meant as a slight.

11. CONCLUSION: Prime Minister Clark's interaction with the Embassy
on Independence Day was widely noted by the New Zealand media. The
consensus of New Zealand commentators is that both her attendance
and her speech were intended as deliberate, and very public,
goodwill gestures.

MCCORMICK

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