New Zealand foreign minister seeks closer ties with Five Eyes powers

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters revealed  on Monday he would make attempt to bring the nation closer to intelligence partners the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia, part of a renewed focus on safety under the new right-of-centre government. The four nations, which together with New Zealand are known as the Five Eyes, have shared intelligence since World War Two, though the alliance has come under pressure in past years. Peters, a previous foreign minister and governer of the populist New Zealand First Party, is a coalition partner in the government led by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s National Party leader that was sworn in earlier this month.

He used his first major policy speech since going back to the role to pledge closer cooperation with safety partners. “We intend to re-invigorate our defence and safety engagement, involving with the United States and our Five Eyes partners, as well as with other important safety partners in the area and beyond,” Peters said in a speech to the diplomatic corps in Wellington on Monday. New Zealand has long been understood as a moderate or even absent voice on China in the Five Eyes alliance.

The nation’s tone on safety and China’s rising presence in the South Pacific toughened last year under the latest Labour government after China and the Solomon Islands struck a security pact. New Zealand’s military is also facing difficulties with aging equipment and personnel shortages, with three of the country’s nine navy ships are idle because of staff shortages. “We know that we will requirement to have greater presence, and we will need to bolster sovereign capabilities that enable us to act in a more challenging geo-strategic environment,” Peters revealed. “And we are focused as a priority on getting the resources important to boost those capabilities.”