It has become clear to me that Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta made only one mistake this week in light of the outrageous outrage offshore to her comments on Five Eyes.
She should have put them in her formal speech to make it crystal clear what New Zealand's position was rather than leaving it to an unscripted press conference after her speech, thus allowing wilful misinterpretation.
There is no suggestion that Mahuta was not reflecting the Government's view.
Mahuta said it was uncomfortable with Five Eyes expanding its remit from an intelligence and security network into a vehicle of public messaging about human rights – used primarily to criticise China's human rights abuses.
Some New Zealand commentators believe that Mahuta should not have expressed a public view on changes to Five Eyes at all.
That is a cop-out and not a defendable position. The problem has arisen because there has been no debate about a changing direction to the intelligence network.
Bigger partners have quietly worked to change its intelligence remit to a more public tool for diplomacy – whether by explicit intent or by evolution is not clear - and expected New Zealand to simply get on board without question.
It began in May last year when three of the Five Eyes partners, including Australia's Marise Payne, issued a statement on repressive moves by China to limit elections in Hong Kong; then it moved to four of them later that month; and eventually a joint statement by all five in August, signed by NZ's Winston Peters. Mahuta then agreed to sign a Five Eyes statement on Hong Kong in November, very soon after taking office, but didn't agree to one in January when it was a statement by only four.
It is not as though New Zealand was not making its voice heard; throughout last year it issued six statements condemning what China was doing with Hong Kong – eight statements if you include the two Five Eyes statements.
Developing the concept of a Five Eyes united front on foreign policy may have been more important to a US Administration operating with a dysfunctional White House, or to post-Brexit officials in Britain who wants its existing alliances to have more muscle.
But at some point, it should have been discussed and Mahuta did that.
But by leaving comments to the press conference rather than part of a formal speech it allowed observers to suggest that New Zealand does not criticise China's human rights abuses because Five Eyes is not its preferred channel of communications.
That view was fomented by forthright former Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer – who chairs the Policy Exchange think tank in London.
He said New Zealand had downgraded its relationship with Five Eyes - which it has not.
It remains committed to it, as it did throughout the 30-year reprisals instigated by the US over nuclear policy when NZ supplied intelligence but was restricted in what it received.
Downer criticised New Zealand for having upgraded its Free Trade Agreement with China when Australia had a crisis with China as though this were some kind of betrayal. But when is Australia not having a crisis with China?
If New Zealand were the seventh state of Australia, it might conduct its foreign policy in accordance with what Australia was doing. But an upgrade to get its FTA closer to Australia's FTA with China is hardly a betrayal.
It has long irritated Australia that New Zealand does not snap to attention when it clicks its fingers.
There is no doubt that New Zealand maintains better relations with China than Australia and other Five Eyes partners but there are historic reasons for that, quite apart from the obvious imperatives of any small country.
After the US and Australia expelled New Zealand from Anzus, New Zealand developed a more independent foreign policy. It negotiated an FTA with China, an FTA that neither the US nor the EU with Britain in it would give NZ.
Even then, as now, that relationship does not stop New Zealand criticising China.
Weeks before signing the FTA, Helen Clark issued a statement about violence in Tibet and moved a parliamentary motion about it.
Jacinda Ardern has publicly criticised China's treatment of the Uighur as well as raising it with Xi Jinping. Ardern was slapped down by China for criticising its despicable depiction of an Australian soldier and a baby this year. New Zealand joined calls for an independent review into the origins of Covid-19. It supported a role for Taiwan at the World Health Organisation.
New Zealand does not usually use the same language or tone as its larger Five Eyes partners, but it makes its voice heard nonetheless.
It is true that China will be delighted with the divisions that have emerged in the past week over Five Eyes and that is unfortunate. The way to avoid that is for partners to accept that New Zealand has a voice, it wants to be heard, and it will choose how and when to use it.