The French Prime Minister was given a traditional Maori welcome ahead of formal talks with Prime Minister John Key today.

On a beautiful morning at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Manuel Valls was welcomed on to the site with a traditional powhiri.

Mr Valls arrived with a large security team and was given a hongi by the Governor-General's kaumatua, Lewis Moeau.

As a young armed warrior conducting the wero fiercely approached Mr Valls, Mr Moeau could be heard explaining the significance of the challenge - before Mr Valls picked up the leaf, or token, laid down by the warrior, in a sign of peace.


At a press conference following their meeting, Mr Key said they had talked about a number of issues, including trade and investment opportunities, counter-terrorism and France's connections to the Pacific.

Mr Key said he also again passed on New Zealand's condolences to the people of France, following last year's deadly terror attacks in Paris.

There was laughter when Mr Key gave a cheeky dig at the French rugby side when he said New Zealand was the current Rugby World Cup champions.

Not to be outdone, Mr Valls brought on some hearty laughs from the audience when he said through an interpreter that the French rugby side was preparing "a revenge" against the All Blacks at the next tournament in Japan.

Mr Valls thanked Mr Key for "an excellent dinner" put on for him last night, which he said showed off the hospitality of the country.

Mr Valls said he and Mr Key had also discussed former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark - who Mr Key campaigned for, in their meeting, for the role of Secretary-General for the United Nations.

The French leader acknowledged there were many different nominations they were looking at - and one of those was Ms Clark.

She was a talented and very experienced candidate, he said, but on choosing a set candidate to back, he said: "It is too early to have a formal opinion."

He did, however, acknowledge that France valued peacekeeping activities.

When asked about the Rainbow Warrior, Mr Valls said he had addressed the topic yesterday and reiterated what he said then - that it was a mistake on their part.

Today, he said, was about moving forward and building ongoing good relations between France and New Zealand.

Earlier Mr Valls said: "I'm here as a friend ... and also as a neighbour."

Today an agreement for new air services between New Zealand and New Caledonia was signed.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges, alongside New Caledonia President Phillippe Germain - travelling with Mr Valls - formalised an agreement which had been negotiated earlier this year.

"Under the new agreement, airlines from New Zealand and New Caledonia now have the opportunity to operate additional services to the other,'' Mr Bridges said.

"The agreement will also make the process easier for New Zealand airlines to fly from New Caledonia to other international destinations in future.''