Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her personal relationship with US President Donald Trump is "absolutely fine" but will not say whether she will raise women's rights or climate change in their formal bilateral meeting next week.

And she is also defending her participation in a women's march in early 2017, before she was Labour leader, saying that she has never characterised it as an anti-Trump march.

Their bilateral meeting will be in New York on Monday next week, New York time, Ardern announced this afternoon.

The pair have met informally on the sidelines of Apec, and at a reception in New York, in previous years and have spoken on the phone, but have never had a formal sit-down meeting.


Ardern told reporters today that trade will be top of her agenda for the meeting, and she would raise the US tariffs on steel and aluminium that she raised with Trump last year during an informal meeting.

"The US is a key security partner for New Zealand, and an important trading partner. Two-way trade is over $18 billion, and there is strong support from the New Zealand business community to further strengthen our trade and economic ties."

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is thought that have raised a trade deal with US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in July this year, hours after making a strong pitch for a free trade deal in a speech in Washington where he essentially said that the US was being left behind in the Asia Pacific region.

Trump has been widely criticised for his comments about women, including a recording of him saying "grab them by the pussy", but Ardern would not say whether she would raise women's rights.

She would also not say whether she would talk about the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, which the US has withdrawn from.

"I don't always set out every single element of the agenda that I discuss with leaders ... but I can certainly tell you trade will be on the agenda ," Ardern said.

She said she may raise the Christchurch Call, which the US has not signed up to but has expressed support for its principles.

"I have no doubt there will be conversations probably relating to March 15, and so that may too come up in conversation."


Ardern joined a women's march in Auckland that doubled as an anti-Trump march in early 2017, but she said today that she never saw it as an anti-Trump rally.

"At the time I characterised that from my perspective about the importance of us continuing to focus on the gains that had been made and never being complacent about that."

Asked about her relationship with Trump, she said it was "absolutely fine".

"It's always enabled me in the margins of meetings or on phone calls to have a good, frank exchange of ideas and views.

"My job is to represent New Zealand and our interest ... Having good relationships is important to that.

"It will mean from time to time we take different perspectives but it should never get in the way of us having a good dialogue on the things that matter, including issues of trade."

While overseas Ardern will also join world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly, where climate change will be a particular focus.

"I'm also honoured to have been invited to give the keynote speech at the UN Secretary General's Climate Action Summit. This is a key opportunity to emphasise that a long-term global challenge like climate change requires collective action."

Ardern will also meet with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

Ardern is seen by some as an anti-Trump, as a headline about her in Vogue Magazine last year screamed, but she has interacted with him numerous times, including at a US reception in New York last year.

At that reception, he congratulated her on baby Neve and she acknowledged his contribution in meeting with Kim Jong-un in an attempt to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula.

She also raised the issue of US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Donald Trump and Jacinda Ardern first met at Apec in Vietnam in 2017. Photo / Twitter
Donald Trump and Jacinda Ardern first met at Apec in Vietnam in 2017. Photo / Twitter

Ardern has been diplomatic towards Trump since becoming Prime Minister.

She dampened speculation that Trump had mistaken her for Justin Trudeau's wife when they first met in person on the sidelines of Apec in 2017.

Her speech in the UN general debate last year, pushing for multi-lateralism and a rules-based international order, did not name Trump but was seen as contrary to Trump's "America First" address in the same debate.

In New York last year, while on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert asked Ardern about the UN General Assembly's laughter during Trump's speech, and the President's claim they were laughing with him.

"Are you trying to create a diplomatic incident?" Ardern responded.

When pressed, she said the assembly had laughed once with the President, but refused to say whether a second, smaller laughter was at the President, calling it a "spontaneous murmur among some people amongst themselves".

In a phone call after the March 15 terror attack, Trump asked Ardern what the US could provide and she asked him to show "sympathy and love for all Muslim communities".

She later rejected Trump's view that white nationalism was not a growing problem.

Jacinda Ardern, before she was Labour leader, Lizzie Marvelly and Alison Mau at the head of the Women against Trump demonstration in Auckland in January 2017. Photo / Doug Sherring
Jacinda Ardern, before she was Labour leader, Lizzie Marvelly and Alison Mau at the head of the Women against Trump demonstration in Auckland in January 2017. Photo / Doug Sherring

She also pushed back on Trump's comments in July when he told four elected congresswomen of colour to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".

Ardern said she "completely and utterly disagreed" with him.

"I'm quite proud that in New Zealand, we take the opposite view ... that our Parliament should be a representative place. It should look and feel like New Zealand.

"It should have a range of different cultures and ethnicities, and never should a judgement be made about the origin of anyone, and their right therefore to be in Parliament as a representative."

Ardern is expected to have several bilateral meetings during her time in New York, not only with state leaders but also with tech company executives.