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."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.