Outgoing British High Commissioner Laura Clarke thinks that the tenures of high commissioners and ambassadors fall into the categories of "steady state" or "disruption".
Clarke reckons her tenure as British High Commissioner has been characterised by "a lot of disruption", negotiating a new trade relationship between New Zealand and the UK following Brexit, and working her way through the pandemic, which involved helping thousands of stranded British travellers.
Clarke will finish up her post in July and head back to London, to take up an as-yet-unannounced new role.
Within months, Clarke was thrown into one of the crises that would mark her time here, after former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal were poisoned in the English city of Salisbury. The murder attempt was pinned on Russia.
The attack was another sign of Russia's long and slow withdrawal from the international order. At the time, the New Zealand Government was pursuing a trade deal with Russia (this was put on indefinite hiatus as a result of the poisoning), and New Zealand was seen as something of a laggard in its response to that crisis. While other countries expelled scores of Russian diplomats, New Zealand expelled none.
Fast-forward several years and New Zealand is firmly in the pack of countries sanctioning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a remarkable change in position.
Ever the diplomat, Clarke is less keen to discuss the response to Salisbury and favours discussing the response to Ukraine, in which New Zealand and the UK are more on the same page.
"I think I'd probably just focus on the more recent [event] frankly, and say that New Zealand's response has been absolutely in the pack," Clarke said.
During her time in the job, Clarke said she had seen geopolitical tensions become more overt and obvious.
"We've been living through a period where geopolitical tensions and competition have kind of gone from being below the surface to really sort of spiking up above the surface," she said.
Clarke believed that the UK and New Zealand's relationship has evolved and strengthened in recent years. For decades, both countries' foreign policy was focused closer to home -the UK was tied to Europe and the Atlantic world, while New Zealand was forging connections in the Asia-Pacific.
She called this a period of "benign neglect", in the relationship between the UK and New Zealand and Australia.
Recently, this has changed, with both New Zealand and the UK becoming more involved in each other's neighbourhoods. Clarke said this process of strengthening predated Brexit.
Trade interests and security concerns have drawn the UK into the Indo-Pacific. It's applied to join the CPTPP trade pact and has articulated Indo-Pacific commitments with the United States.
Clarke said the UK's pivot to the region could be seen in the way in which it put "much more into the relationship with New Zealand and Australia", as well as doubling the number of high commissioners in the Pacific.
"We've opened three new high commissions," Clarke said, adding the UK was "thinking much more strategically about how we engage with these partners on issues that matter most to them", namely climate change.
New Zealand, similarly, had become far more embroiled in European security matters.
The Government has aligned New Zealand strongly with European nations and Nato in the international response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, reasoning that a threat to democratic Europe and the rules-based order is a threat to New Zealand, despite our geographic isolation from the conflict.
"New Zealand's response to Russia, Ukraine has been a really strong one. It's absolutely, you know, in terms of the sanctions in terms of providing assistance to Ukraine in terms of diplomatic responses, in terms of military and lethal aid, you know, that is very much a country that sees what is playing out in Europe is not just a question of security a long way away," Clarke said.
"We're all acutely aware that when a rules-based system is under pressure, then you need a unanimous response to violations of those rules," she said.
This strong security relationship will be on display next week as Ardern flies to Europe where she will attend a Nato leaders' summit in Madrid, and hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The trip has a strong trade element too: Ardern will hope to conclude FTA talks with the European Union in Brussels, and her meeting with Johnson will be the first since the two countries signed their own FTA earlier this year.
The increasingly polarised security picture has forced difficult decisions on New Zealand which has, for nearly 40 years enjoyed the privileges of its "independent" foreign policy, allowing it to manage trade and security relationships with many countries without being tied to one camp or another.
Fears over China in the Pacific and Russia's increasingly erratic behaviour have forced the Government to be more explicit about which international "camp" New Zealand sits in.
Clarke agreed this has forced difficult decisions on New Zealand, but she said she is wary of the growing rhetoric around picking a "side".
"I think we all have to be very careful about giving in to the temptation of this rhetoric of 'pick a lane'", Clarke said.
"Ultimately we live in a globalised, interdependent economy," she said.
"The UK and China are interdependent," Clarke said.
"There are lots of issues where we can only deal with them with a global response: biodiversity, climate change, oceans, global health issues. We have to work together," she said.
She said New Zealand's status as "a small trading nation, particularly dependent on the rules of the world" means it gets this difficult balance more than most.
"It's got to walk this line, it's got to balance its relationships. And I think that's what we are all essentially trying to do is balance relationships and interests," she said.
Clarke believed there was an opportunity in disruption. Both sides took advantage of Brexit disruption to sign one of New Zealand's strongest FTAs, which commits to eliminating all tariffs over time.
Clarke cited the agreement as one of her key achievements in New Zealand.
The other was closer to home.
"I"m really proud of the work that we've done to strengthen the UK and its relationship with Māori," Clarke said.
A significant part of this was the 2019 "expression of regret" made to the iwi of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa over the violence that took place after the arrival of James Cook and the Endeavour when it arrived in New Zealand in 1769, resulting in the deaths of nine Māori.
Clarke said this was about acknowledging "the pain of the past through the expression of regret for those deaths caused from those first encounters".
Strengthening ties with Māori was not just about the past - the FTA included a chapter on Māori trade and economic cooperation.
Clarke finishes her post in July, and will leave shortly after, though a return visit is inevitable - Clark's husband, Toby Fisher, is a New Zealander.
The next high commissioner, Iona Thomas, will take up her post in August.