While other world leaders laughed when US President Donald Trump boasted at the UN about his time in office, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kept a poker face and would not be drawn on her views afterwards.

Trump spoke at the UN General Assembly this morning, getting off to an unusual start when his claim that his two-year-old administration "has accomplished more than that almost any administration in the history of our country" was met with a widespread burst of sceptical laughter from others.

That laughter dominated the headlines after the speech.

Ardern had not reacted to the line in question, or the laughter.


She did not want to speculate on why others had laughed.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve in New York. Photo / AP
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with baby Neve in New York. Photo / AP

"I didn't laugh, I was listening to the words being spoken by the President. Just to give context it was the moment that the President made a statement around his view around his success relative to past Presidents.

Look, everyone would have made their own judgement. For me, I was respecting the fact he had the floor and listening to what he had to say."

Ardern said everyone would have their view on his time in office - but she would not venture her own view.

"Each President will take their own view of their relative position in history. It's not for me to judge, it's for the American people."

Nor would she express a view on his comments rejecting globalism in favour of patriotism, or his criticism and funding cuts to the UN itself.

"There wasn't anything in President Trump's statement today that surprised me. He obviously takes a very particular view on issues around sovereignty, multilateralism and of course issues around Iran. I don't think that would have surprised anyone today."

There was a lengthy pause when Ardern was asked what parts of his statement she had agreed with.


"Look, there's no doubt there have been challenges for our domestic constituencies. Not all will feel well served by globalisation and the opening up of trade but it is our job to make sure we ensure our people benefit from trade.

We can either do that through isolationism or through a multilateral approach, a collective approach.

There are some issues we need to address, we just tend to take a different solution in response."

Ardern said New Zealand was one of the founding countries of the United Nations and it maintained its belief in multilateralism.

"There are areas we are working successfully together but we need to keep reinforcing the importance of multilateralism."

Trump also restated his objections to the world trade system railed against the UN system, saying America would not cede its sovereignty "to an unelected bureaucracy."

"America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

He also repeated his claims that the US bore too much of the cost of running the UN and its operations. He has already cut the US contributions for peacekeeping, withdrawn from the Human Rights Commission and halted funding for the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes for crimes such as war crimes.

He also set out plans to review the US foreign aid policy, saying in future aid would only go to countries which were "friends" of the US and had its interests at heart.

Trump had urged other leaders to join him in "isolating" Iran, whose leaders he accused of "sowing chaos, death and destruction."

The US has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions.

Ardern said New Zealand continued to support the Iran agreement. She said the majority of trade New Zealand businesses had with Iran was not affected by the US decision.

On the sidelines of the assembly, Ardern continued her meetings with leaders of European countries, adding Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to those she has met.

Ardern also met with actress and UN good will ambassador Anne Hathaway, star of movies including The Devil wears Prada and The Princess Diaries. Hathaway had requested the meeting with Ardern - the actress takes an interest in issues such as paid parental leave.

Ardern said she was familiar with Hathaway's work and pleased she had recognised the work New Zealand had done for children and families.