Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is out of politics but says she will not be silent about what she describe about the "strangest goings on we are living though" in the United States.

In a wide-ranging discussion to about 3000 people in Auckland on Monday night, Clinton canvassed everything from her recollection of a FaceTime with her grandchildren from One Tree Hill (or One Tree Place, as she called it) to North Korea and her wish she had bit back after US President Donald Trump "stalked me" on stage during a debate.

Clinton rarely mentioned Trump by name but he was a constant presence in her discussion - and she did not spare her own country from a critique of concerning developments internationally.

Clinton said she was out of domestic politics in terms of being a candidate, "but I am very much in mode as an active citizen and when I see things that are going to be harmful to my country, harmful to my country's leadership in the world, maybe harmful to my grandchildren, I'm going to keep speaking out".


"We're having a very important struggle in the United States right now. It's difficult to fully grasp because there are 20 stories and people are getting overwhelmed by the strange goings on we are living through."

She said the "other side" was counting on people getting tired and giving up but she did not intend to do so.

Clinton visited New Zealand as Secretary of State in 2010 and said it could be a model for the world.

"New Zealand's success in bringing together people from different backgrounds and beliefs, having such a vital democracy as an example which we so desperately need in the world really means more in the 21st century than perhaps you even recognise.

Photo / Dean Purcell
Photo / Dean Purcell

"What you do here, how you navigate into the future will be one of the examples that we can hold up as to what works."

Much of her address related to the 2016 campaign and Clinton said she recalled getting a number of invitations after the election to permanently move to New Zealand.

"I must say I really did appreciate the offers. Gave them some thought.

"But I'm going to stay put because we have work to do in my country as well."


Clinton spoke about the toll of politics on women, speaking of the personal attacks but peppering her address with wry comments such as the time that went into makeup and clothing: "you lose months on that kind of stuff".

She noted Dame Jenny Shipley, who was interviewing her, was the first woman Prime Minister of New Zealand.

"You're now on your third woman Prime Minister. Just saying..." a pointed reminder that the US was yet to get its first that was rewarded with a loud round of applause.

While many of the stories she related about the 2016 campaign were from her book What Happened, Clinton spoke on the international environment from North Korea to concerns about Russian and Chinese influence and cyberattacks.

Photo / Dean Purcell
Photo / Dean Purcell

She said while she was hopeful recent developments around North Korea and de-nuclearisation would bear fruit, she was not yet certain whether to be optimistic.

She raised concern about President Xi Jinping's move to remove a limit on the number of years a Chinese President could spend in office, saying a backslide in democracy in the Asian region would have ramifications world-wide and "purposeful engagement" was needed.


However, she ended on a note of optimism, saying, "despite some of the warning signals and danger signs coming from my own country, that we will right our ship of state, that we will be reaching out once again to the world while standing up for our fundamental ideals and interests".

Clinton will travel to Australia for similar addresses.