Minister for spy agencies Andrew Little is having a high-level meeting with American security officials in Wellington today, where the decision to block Spark from using Huawei for its 5G network is almost certain to be discussed.
A Globemaster C-17 plane was seen at Wellington Airport last night, and a spokeswoman for Little confirmed that American officials were meeting officials from the NZ Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau.
"The plane is transporting security officials who are in New Zealand to meet with their counterparts. These security officials routinely meet with their New Zealand counterparts," the spokeswoman said.
She said Little was at the meeting, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not.
"We see these visits as part of regular government to government engagement that helps protect and enhance common interests. National security is a global concern which requires international co-operation and a joint approach."
She would not comment on whether Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, was visiting New Zealand.
Coats oversees the 16 agencies within the US intelligence community, including the CIA and National Security Agency.
Coats' predecessor James Clapper was confirmed to be in New Zealand in 2016 after a Globemaster plane was seen at Wellington Airport.
One item almost certain to be raised in today's meeting is the GCSB's decision to block Spark's plans to use Chinese company Huawei for its 5G network, citing security concerns.
China's Government has criticised the decision, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying there was "serious concern".
New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance along with the US, the UK, Australia and Canada, but GCSB director Andrew Hampton said he had come under no pressure from Five Eyes counterparts or from political quarters.
Hampton said there were several more steps in the process at which the decision could be reconsidered, ultimately by Little, who is Minister for the GCSB.
He would not comment specifically on the Spark-Huawei case, but said that his role was focused on network security.
"Wider factors about impacts on the economy, impacts on international relations they are for later in the process and they will be the types of things that the minister would need to take into account if it ever got to that point."
In 2016, a Globemaster plane was seen at Wellington Airport and former Prime Minister Sir John Key said it was carrying then-US director of national intelligence James Clapper.
It had been a secret visit until Key was asked at his post-Cabinet press conference if he knew why the plane was there and he replied: "Yes, because Jim Clapper's in town."
Key said Clapper, who had been America's intelligence chief since 2010, was on his way to a Five Eyes meeting in Australia and was visiting Wellington for farewell talks with the Government and spy chiefs.