Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will travel to Europe on Sunday, with a packed itinerary focused on war and trade.
She will visit Spain, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Following her trip to Europe, Ardern will fly to Australia where ministers from the New Zealand and Australian governments will meet to discuss their various portfolios. Following that meeting, Ardern will travel to the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji.
Her first stop will be Madrid where she will attend Nato's leaders' summit. New Zealand is not a member of Nato, a northern hemisphere security pact, but it has been invited alongside Japan, Australia, and South Korea, as the alliance looks to strengthen connections in the Asia Pacific.
Nato heads of government, including United States President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, will attend. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also slated to attend the meeting, although it is not clear whether he will attend in person or via video link.
Perhaps careful to avoid the impression New Zealand was being dragged into alignment with Nato, Ardern stressed her appearance at the summit was a matter of coincidental timing.
Ardern said a trade mission to Europe had been "long planned", and that it now "coincides" with the Nato leaders' summit.
"Nato was a treaty for its age when it began over 70 years ago in the aftermath of World War II.
"With the instability faced by the region at present, New Zealand is keen to be a part of discussions to support the peace and security of all democratic nations," she said, adding that her discussions would involve talks about Indo-Pacific security too.
She said the summit would also give her the opportunity for bilateral meetings with leaders in attendance.
Following that visit, Ardern will travel to Brussels for the final stages of talks on New Zealand's Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
The EU is New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner. In 2021, New Zealand imported $12.9 billion worth of goods and services to the EU, and exported $4.58b. Exports to the EU have been declining since 2018, when they were worth $6.1b.
Ardern will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola.
Ardern said she also hoped to speak to the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Primary sector leaders are concerned the final stages of trade talks might compromise on market access for their goods and services. This would contrast with the recent UK-FTA, under which primary sector customs duties were eliminated over time.
Ardern stressed the EU agreement was a "multilateral" one, which needed the agreement of the 27 EU nations, meaning it was likely to involve more compromises than the agreement with the UK.
Ardern's visit will conclude in London where she will meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss New Zealand's free trade agreement with that country. The agreement has already been signed. Legislation ratifying the agreement will be introduced to Parliament this week. She will also meet with Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge.
Geoffrey Miller, a geopolitical analyst at the Democracy Project, said Ardern's attendance at the Nato summit was significant.
"She gets a seat at the top table - that's a big thing for her," Miller said.
Miller said the invite was not completely without cost. New Zealand was invited to the summit with the leaders of other Asia-Pacific countries, including Australia, South Korea, and Japan.
Miller noted these countries tended to be more hawkish on relations with China. New Zealand's inclusion was perhaps in recognition of the fact that under Ardern, it had pursued a more hawkish position on relations with China.
"It is something of a carrot or an award to be invited to a Nato summit," Miller said.
He added that branding the trip as mainly a trade mission was a "way of playing down sensitive issues and playing down the fact she is going to a Nato summit".
He said New Zealand's strong response to the Ukraine crisis had shown it had shifted its alignment to Nato this year and aligned itself more closely with the organisation.
One thing to watch is the effective launch of Nato's new "strategic concept" at the summit.
Miller said this was still "vague", but was likely to be broader than the European-Atlantic focus Nato has had in the past, and would draw in countries like China, which is of interest to New Zealand.
"We are throwing our lot in with Nato," Miller said, warning this could provoke a strong response from China.