Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta went to lengths to point out New Zealand's value in the Five Eyes partnership during a significant bilateral press conference this afternoon.
She shared the podium with Australia's Foreign Affairs Ministers Marise Payne; both ministers were questioned about the expanding remit of Five Eyes.
It comes amid a wave of criticism directed at Mahuta, following comments she made about being "uncomfortable" about the group's expanding remit.
But, in a press conference that was steeped in high-level diplomacy, Mahuta didn't back away from that view.
"It's not necessary all the time on every issue, to invoke Five Eyes as your first port of call in terms of creating a coalition of support around particular issues in the human rights space".
And Payne did not appear to be push back significantly on that view either.
She told reporters that New Zealand could express its concerns in "whichever forum they themselves determine appropriate and consistent with their respective national interest".
Mahuta was clearly feeling the pressure this afternoon, given the international fallout of her comments earlier this week, after she gave a speech about New Zealand's relationship with China.
She told media after the speech that since she had held the Foreign Affairs portfolio, she had not wanted to use Five Eyes as the first point of contact on a range of issues that existed outside of its remit.
"That is a matter that we have raised with Five Eyes partners; that we are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of Five Eyes."
These words exploded onto the foreign affairs scene, prompting responses from all corners of the globe.
And this would have been front of mind for Mahuta, who went out of her way to point out how much New Zealand values the Five Eyes relationship.
"We receive significant benefits from being a part of that relationship and are close allies and friends in terms of common values and principles," she told reporters.
She did not, however, back away from what she said on Monday.
"But whether or not the framework needs to be invoked every time on every issue, especially in the human rights space, is something that we have expressed further views about."
Those views – that she is "uncomfortable" with the expanding remit – have drawn a significant international response.
Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer tweeted: "Sorry to read the New Zealand FM has downgraded NZ role in 5 eyes arrangement".
"And they upgraded FTA with China in February while China was imposing sanctions on Australia. Used to be our best mates. Not now."
Meanwhile, the Global Times – the media mouthpiece of the Chinese Government – praised Mahuta's comments, calling them "remarkable".
"The Five Eyes alliance, which originated from World War II, has become an anti-China clique, serving the US' interests," the publications said.
"New Zealand's decision to be strategically independent offers an example for other countries."
During the press conference, Payne was specifically asked about the expanded remit – she said Five Eyes was a "vital strategic alliance".
She said the liberal democracies of Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and Britain share the same approaches to "so many … international issues".
She added that this comes during an "era of great strategic competition, particularly in the indo Pacific", which is a clear reference to China.
"Now, my view is that countries will choose to address issues of concerns in whichever forum they themselves determine appropriate and consistent with their respective national interest."
But that was as far as she would go.
It is reasonably rare for ministers at this level to stray too much from the tried and tested diplomatic script.
A notable exception was when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unloaded her Government's discontent about Australia's 501 deportation programme during her trip to Australia last year.
She was sharing the stage with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who offered a diplomatic "we've heard your concerns" in response.
Such theatrics were not seen this afternoon.
The closest thing to any kind of diplomatic spat was Payne's gentle rebuke of Trade Minister Damien O'Connor's comments that Australia should follow New Zealand's lead and "show respect" to China.
"One thing I have learned in my role in this job as Australia's Foreign Minister is not to give advice to other countries," Payne said.