Foreign Minister Murray McCully had hoped to meet with Nauru's justice minister David Adeang to discuss suspended aid while in Port Moresby this week, but with only hours left Mr Adeang was playing hard to get.
Just before Mr McCully and Prime Minister John Key travelled to Port Moresby for the Pacific Islands Forum, New Zealand suspended about $1.2 million in aid to Nauru's justice department after ongoing concern about the rule of law.
Prime Minister John Key said he had briefly spoken to Nauru's President Baron Waqa but the aid funding did not come up.
Mr McCully said he had hoped to meet with Mr Adeang in Port Moresby and had sent messages and a text but with just a few hours left his overtures had been ignored. He was still hopeful of a last minute talk before leaving.
"I'm prioritising the opportunity to meet. Whether he wants to prioritise it is a matter for him. I think its well known he has strong views about this topic but I've tried to convey New Zealand's position in a careful and moderate manner."
He said the justice funding would remain on hold until the situation in Nauru improved.
"I'm sad to say that the steps taken not just in respect to Roland Kun but in relation to other matters, have not helped the international reputation of Nauru."
Mr McCully said New Zealand made a similar decision when it axed a $6.3 Police training project to train Indonesia police in community policing.
Mr McCully said the conditions Indonesia offered were not acceptable. New Zealand remained willing to send Police trainers but it would have to be under the right conditions.
"So I've held firm on the ground rules and will keep the offer on the table. I think New Zealanders would have some clear expectations about the conditions under which they would expect to have the NZ Police deployed. They'd want to be sure they were going to do the job they were there to do. In this case we couldn't get that level of certainty so I said no."
After it was shelved Indonesia's deputy chief of Police told the Jakarta Post it was Indonesia who had pulled out because of concern of "a hidden motive behind the aid."
He said New Zealand insisted on training in the troubled eastern provinces rather than police training centres.
West Papua was a major topic of discussion at the Forum.
The Pacific leaders discussed mounting a fact finding mission to West Papua after ongoing concerns about human rights abuses and decided to send PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to talk to Indonesia's President.
Mr McCully said he had met with Indonesia's Vice Minister in Moresby, at which West Papua was one of the top five priorities for the leaders discussions. He said he urged them to take note of that.
"The reason it has become more of a feature of discussion here is because there is mounting concern that not enough progress has been made."
He said the leaders' focus sent the message that the Pacific region was watching closely and the best way to get Indonesia to pay attention was the concern of the international community.