Labour leader Andrew Little was disappointed with Donald Trump's inauguration speech and expressed concern about the impact of a possible decline in the United States' leadership role in the world.
"He didn't even get close to what he did on election night itself or the day after when he said he'd be a President for all Americans."
Little also said that while he and Trump shared an opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, any attempt by the 11 other countries to secure an alternative would present an opportunity to revisit some of its objectionable features.
He said Trump's speech did not address a divided America.
"The disappointing thing about the inauguration speech is I didn't see anything that looked like an attempt to heal the national divisions that are self-evidently there."
Trump continued to tweet about Russia, China and Europe when there was huge uncertainty about world affairs.
"He talked about America First and not entering into fights that aren't America's fights. But the US plays an absolutely crucial role in world peace and world order and if he is going to fundamentally change that, then who knows what is going to happen and which tyrants in other parts of the world are going to consider that they have a licence to do even worse."
One of Trump's first promised steps this week is to give notice of the US intention to withdraw from the TPP.
Other countries, led by Japan, are making efforts to ratify the TPP and get their domestic law changes passed, apparently in a bid to put pressure on the US.
On Friday, Japan became the first country to complete its domestic requirements and to formally notify New Zealand, as the depository of the agreement.
"Japan intends to continue to tenaciously encourage other original signatories to promptly complete their domestic procedures towards the entry into force of the TPP agreement, in light of the significance of the TPP," a statement by the embassy said.
New Zealand has also completed all its domestic law changes.
The Australian Government's hopes to follow suit have been stymied by Opposition parties there including Labor, which has yet to oppose TPP but sees no advantage in passing it without US backing.
New Zealand Labour opposes the TPP on several grounds including because it does not reserve the right to ban property sales to foreign buyers, and that Parliament is required to give other TPP countries an opportunity to submit on laws affecting them, which Little says undermines sovereignty.
Little said that Trump opposed the TPP because he was a protectionist and wanted to impose barriers to help US companies compete against effective overseas producers and manufacturers.
If TPP was not going to proceed and there was an opportunity to get back around the table, New Zealand should be there, Little said, "but only on the grounds that we have got to fix the problems that undermine our sovereignty".
Campaign kicks off
Andrew Little presided yesterday at the launch of Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern's campaign for the Mt Albert byelection.
Little said Labour would treat it like any other byelection, despite National's decision not to put up a candidate.
"We're not taking anything for granted," he said.
The main issues would be housing, the rising cost of education for parents and congestion.
The byelection to replace David Shearer will be on February 25. The former Labour leader resigned to take up a job running the United Nations mission in South Sudan.