Scott Brown, the new US Ambassador handpicked by US President Donald Trump, says New Zealanders should give Trump a "fair go" before criticising him.
Brown arrived in New Zealand four days ago and held his first media appearance after presenting his credentials yesterday - an afternoon that included doughnuts and a session on the guitar by the guitar buff.
Brown, an attorney who was Senator from 2010 to 2013, said he had known Trump for seven years and found him "direct" but willing to listen.
Asked what he would say to New Zealanders who were sceptical about Trump or opposed to him, Brown said "I would ask them to give him a fair go."
"Whether you like him or not, he's a man of his word.
"Will he get a fair go from the American people, or from the world, from the New Zealanders? Gosh, I hope so because I think it's so critically important to give anybody who is in a new position, a position such as the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of this country, I don't care who it is.
He said New Zealand should not be worried about the "America First" approach and rejected claims it was isolating itself from the region through actions such as withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"A strong America is good not only for New Zealand, it's good for the entire world. I don't look it as an isolationist type of situation."
Although the US has pulled out of the TPP agreement, Brown said one of his focuses was expanding trade between the two countries, especially in innovation and biotechnology.
He was particularly impressed with New Zealand technology - from the America's Cup boat to Rocket Labs, which he planned to visit next week.
"I think there's some good opportunities for our two countries, especially New Zealand, in that space."
He said the US believed smaller trade agreements between one or two countries was a better option than multilateral deals - and he would work to try to get an agreement for New Zealand.
"I'm hopeful that at some point I can get guidance from the Administration, from the trade representatives, to explore any and all opportunities with the businesses and leadership in New Zealand to try to come up with some sort of agreement that really benefits us in, quite frankly, a different way."
He believed New Zealand would benefit under the new Administration, saying a Five Eyes meeting in Queenstown earlier this year, the early visit by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Brown's own swift appointment and approval by the Senate showed it was important to the US.