Key Points:

Megaphone diplomacy and lecturing others is not the New Zealand way to conduct foreign relations, says outgoing Foreign Minister Murray McCully. New Zealand's default position is to be respectful, he said tonight on an independent foreign policy in a farewell speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in Wellington. "In pursing principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, we try to be constructive and ask ourselves whether others who might be the focus of critical scrutiny need a lecture, or need some help. "The New Zealand way should always be to offer help." McCully has often been accused of being too soft on China, although he did not link his comments on megaphone diplomacy to China. However, he did say that China had saved New Zealand from a long and sustained recession and that managing New Zealand's complex relationship with China had been a key preoccupation during his tenure. And he said the notion that New Zealand might have to choose between China and the United States ran counter to an independent foreign policy. It was a speech that acknowledged his reputation as an agitator and irritant to the Security Council during New Zealand's two-year term and to organisations which moved too slowly or inefficiently for his liking. McCully is standing down on May 2 after eight and a half years as foreign minister, and is retiring from politics at the election. "If on May 2 you hear the incessant popping of champagne corks at the headquarters of many of the world's multilateral funding institutions, do not be surprised," he said. Such giant bureaucracies generally delivered below-average service to poorer countries and had compliance regimes designed for Asian countries of 50 million which would be a deal-breaker for a country of 10,000 like Tuvalu.

"I plead guilty to having spent a good part of the last eight years persuading, cajoling, criticising, hectoring and threatening to withhold budgets in order to try to achieve a more realistic, timely and effective service for our smaller neighbours."
Murray McCully
McCully said one of the key features of the past decade had been the rise of China, both in the two-way relationship and as a regional and global power. He said it had saved New Zealand from recession. "Had it not been for the dramatic expansion of trade and economic relations with China in the early years of the Key Government, New Zealand would have suffered a long and sustained recession, and all of the associated social challenges that we have seen in some European nations. "Managing this complex, intense, and dynamic relationship has been a key preoccupation during my tenure as Foreign Minister, as it will be for my successor." He also rejected notion that New Zealand would at times need to choose between its relationship with the US and its relationship with China. "That belief shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of both relationships. "It also runs directly counter to the whole notion of an independent foreign policy." McCully said New Zealand's term on the Security Council from 2015-2016 was the unquestioned highlight of his time as Foreign Minister but it "provided a huge window on the terrible imperfections of the multilateral world." New Zealand was hugely energetic and active during its term "and we did annoy most of our friends at one time or another." Last year the international community spent 80 per cent of humanitarian aid on victims of man-made conflict, $US19 billion, compared with $US4 billion on natural disasters. "The UN can no longer afford the consequences of its inability to prevent or resolve conflict. "There is little doubt that the use of, or threat to use, the veto in the Security Council is a huge contributing factor to the current state of affairs which, for most of our tenure, bore a striking resemblance to the Cold War era. "None of the permanent members should be proud of that. And nor should the UN membership put up with it." Other highlights included rebuilding trust and confidence with United States and building a new type of security arrangement outside the Anzus treaty. He admitted that for some time, National in Opposition had been "uncertain or intentionally ambiguous" on the issue of New Zealand's anti-nuclear legislation, the Anzus treaty and New Zealand's relationship with the United States. "Today I think I can say we have substantially achieved our objective of creating a full, mutually respectful relationship with the United States, involving co-operation in virtually every sphere, now including, after a 30-year hiatus, two US ship visits in recent months." He described New Zealand's relationship with Australia as being so close "it is not really a foreign policy relationship." "In an era in which every member of our cabinet has their Australian counterparts' cellphone number, and in which Prime Ministers, without reference to their foreign ministries arrange sleepovers at each other's houses, the notion that the relationship can somehow be captured by clunky TPNs [third person notes] or cable exchanges is simply fanciful. While New Zealand and Australia were aligned most of the time "we should never get bent out of shape over the issues on which we do not see eye to eye." McCully said New Zealand had to pay more than lip-service to its role in the Pacific and the ministry had to be the best and most respected centre of Pacific expertise in the world. It also had to focus on areas in which it had expertise - renewable energy and agriculture. New Zealand and the EU had made huge progress in shifting Pacific Islands from costly fossil-fuel based electricity systems to renewable energy. "The lessons we have learnt in our own region have given us the capacity and the confidence to deliver high-value, relatively low-cost expertise in renewable energy in half a dozen Caribbean countries and some in Africa. "We need to take some risks. We need to take advantage of the nimble decision-making and quick delivery that our size makes possible."