COMMENT:

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived in New York last night it must have felt somewhat like landing for a Wellbeing Retreat despite a week jam-packed with speeches, meetings, and events.
 
On the international stage, nobody cares about the rats and mice domestic issues she has been facing.

Nobody will have heard of Clare Curran or Meka Whaitiri, nobody will care about the distinction between the release of GDP numbers and the Government accounts, or whether Winston Peters agrees with a Labour policy measure.
 
It is her second major international outing this year - the first being her trip to Europe in May. And it is her first trip to the United States as Prime Minister.
 
It will be a reset to the days she was a novelty, a breath of fresh air, an intriguing political leader as a young woman with a baby, who speaks well and convincingly.
 
In New Zealand, she now has to deal with the same problems as any other Prime Minister with all the annoying side shows that brings, but she remains a breath of fresh air internationally.
 
Whatever her domestic critics might say, that gives Ardern great leverage and some influence. And when a Prime Minister looks good, so does New Zealand.
 
There could not be a more important time for it.
 
With Donald Trump in the Presidency, all manner of the things New Zealand benefits from are under threat.
 
Trump's shift away from multilateral trade deals and the tariffs war between China and United States will inevitably have an impact on New Zealand, even if as collateral damage.
 
An economic slowdown is forecast, and the other leaders will be called on to stick to the Paris Agreement on climate change after the withdrawal of the US. 
 
Ardern's agenda in New York reflects that; there are summits on "social good", world peace and climate change.
 
There is also a Bloomberg business summit, at which Ardern will talk about trade.
 
Ardern's statement to the UN General Assembly might be late on a Thursday night after many leaders have left town, but she will not find it hard to get her voice heard.

Monday night NZ Time she will kick off her media appearances on the Today show, a breakfast programme with more than four million viewers.

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Ardern was last on it in April after Today's Cynthia McFadden travelled to New Zealand to interview and film her.

McFadden ended that clip by singing the praises of New Zealand.

Ardern also has a slot on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert - and three million viewers - and an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour which will screen on PBS.
 
New Zealand paid a lot of money to a public relations company to lobby to get former Prime Minister John Key on David Letterman's The Late Show in 2014, and then only to read out a rather feeble list of 10 things about New Zealand.
 
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert came looking for Ardern and will do a sit-down interview – not the gimmicky side show.
 
Ardern copped some flak for the amount of "soft" international media she did after becoming PM, especially because she was turning down New Zealand media at the same time.
 
That criticism is one of the reasons she decided to turn down screeds more international media requests than she has accepted – among them the prestigious New Yorker.
 
That is something of a shame.

There is sometimes a fine line for leaders in tending to domestic affairs over international affairs.
 
But at the moment, for New Zealand, the two are one and the same.

No pushy Potus time

When Prime Minister John Key went to international summits he adopted sharp elbows and shamelessness to cut through the throng of world leaders and get precious face time with then US President Barack Obama.

Former US president Barack Obama and Sir John Key played a round of golf at Tara Iti golf course in Mangawhai in March 2018. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Former US president Barack Obama and Sir John Key played a round of golf at Tara Iti golf course in Mangawhai in March 2018. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Key would make sure he just happened to be next to Obama when the leaders were on a break or even walking to a dinner. The king hit was the invitation to play golf in Hawaii.

But Key didn't have to contend with US President Donald Trump - and for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the common ground is a lot harder to find.

About 140 leaders are in New York for the annual leaders' week, and the New Zealand PM usually tries to catch up with those who will not be at other summits. Trump will not attend Apec or the East Asia Summit later in the year.

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But when Ardern turns up to the formal dinner Trump is hosting for all the leaders tomorrow morning (NZ time), while she will not try to avoid Trump nor will she try to engineer a fulsome chat.

Before becoming Labour leader, Ardern had marched in the Women's March which doubled as an anti-Trump march after his election. It was perhaps in retaliation that at their first meeting Trump reportedly mistook her for Trudeau's wife.

All might not be lost, however. Ardern's partner, Clarke Gayford, has been invited to a reception hosted by Melania Trump.

What's on in New York

• Ardern spoke at a Social Good Summit overnight and meets with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres early this morning, before a function with NZ business people in New York.

• Overnight tonight (Monday night NZ time): Ardern appears on the Today show, before speaking at Climate Week and giving a statement at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit. She later attends a reception hosted by Trump.