When Jacinda Ardern last week invited US president-elect Joe Biden to New Zealand, she did so in the knowledge he may well be planning a visit to Australia to mark the 70th anniversary of Anzus.
New Zealand remains suspended from that three-way security pact, because of its anti-nuclear stance.
But there is another alliance which appears to be playing a more visible role in New Zealand's relationships, the Five Eyes intelligence network, or as John Key described it in 2015, "the club".
Co-operation among the five countries of the alliance - US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - has extended to areas of immigration, counter-terrorism, and online child exploitation.
But it has recently extended to foreign affairs statements on China and that has raised eyebrows about the direction of Five Eyes.
The five countries' foreign ministers, including Nanaia Mahuta, who had each already issued individual statements condemning China's expulsion of four legislators in Hong Kong, issued a joint statement on the subject on November 19.
It was the second time in four months that the five countries joined forces for political purposes to condemn China. The other time was in August this year when the five foreign ministers, including Winston Peters, in a joint statement condemned China's new national security laws.
At issue is not the condemnation of China, which has been widespread globally and individually by each of the Five Eyes partners, but the quiet evolution of the Five Eyes network into a political vehicle without public debate.
It is thought New Zealand was pressed by others to be part of the joint statement. New Zealand has long been considered too timid by the more strident partners, especially by Australia, which has been known to have described it as Four Eyes and a Blink (NZ being the blink).
Waikato University law professor Al Gillespie says such developments in an intelligence network should be debated with greater transparency.
"It is a very unusual situation and we should be questioning it more, but what has happened is it is just kind of morphed away."
Key brought it into the open in 2015 when he suggested contributing to the effort in Iraq against Isis was the price of being part of the club.
"We all knew the club existed but the rules for membership weren't very clear," Gillespie said.
"The Anzus Treaty for example, you sit down, you write it out you agree what principles are holding you together. But with Five Eyes, you don't get that. We don't see what's holding us together apart from sharing intelligence."
Unlike the Anzus treaty, which was signed publicly on September 1, 1951 in a blaze of publicity, the Five Eyes alliance has been shrouded in secrecy from the get-go.
It began as a wartime intelligence agreement between Britain and the United States intelligence agencies and in 1946 was formalised into the UKUSA agreement for signals intelligence between the GCHQ and NSA, to which Canada was added in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956.
Signals intelligence was part of the NZ Defence Force until 1977 when the Government Communications Security Bureau was formed by Sir Robert Muldoon.
Muldoon revealed its existence in 1984 and it became a separate statutory agency in 2003. The GCSB legislation was overhauled in 2013 and then again in 2017 after an independent review of the GCSB and SIS by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.
Their report noted that collaboration between the Five Eyes had moved to beyond just intelligence to include border security, immigration, defence and police activities.
It also said New Zealand gained considerably more from the partnership than it provided in return.
"For every intelligence report the NZSIS provides to a foreign partner, it receives 170 international reports. Similarly, for every report the GCSB makes available to its partners, it receives access to 99 in return."
Former foreign minister and National's foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee described the recent evolution of the Five Eyes into foreign policy as "an interesting trend" and believes caution is called for.
New Zealand had always had a good dialogue with the Chinese Government.
"It seems to me we should be continuing with that policy where we are talking about those issues rather than lining up with others who are a little more strident and, if I can also say, a lot less dependent on China than New Zealand is.
"It is a little bit concerning because, given our location and given our broad international friendships and our location, we should be much more independent in our thinking."
Brownlee said it was possible Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta had been given compelling advice to join the Five Eyes statement "but I doubt it".
Australia's relationship with China has deteriorated in recent years in inverse relation to the volume of its criticism of China be it over interference in domestic affairs, aggression in the South China Sea or a Covid-19 inquiry.
At the weekend, China imposed tariffs of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine and told Australia to "reflect upon its own behaviour".
Gillespie shares Brownlee's concern about joining a group of larger countries who are much more vocal in their criticism of China.
"The challenge with China and the Five Eyes is that all of the other countries have got their beef with China. America has got its beef, Australia, Canada and Britain.
"We are the only one that doesn't have a particular challenge at the moment and so we get caught up behind the other four and that makes it difficult for us to be independent at the same time."
The Government has downplayed the latest development as nothing unusual.
Andrew Little, the Minister responsible for the GCSB and SIS, has attended many Five Eyes meetings and last term was responsible for the Five Eyes relationships when he said it had broadened since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
For example, former Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin had attended a five countries meeting in Washington earlier this year about online child sexual exploitation.
"It was related to encryption and how we respond to the fact that, as more and more of those apps and services go into encrypted platforms, it is hard for law enforcement to get access to material that is criminal in nature and therefore do their job as law enforcement."
So how does the focus on cyber security and crime relate to a foreign affairs statement on Hong Kong and China?
Little: "When it comes to Hong Kong, we are five countries with a largely shared and common set of constitutional principles about democracy, freedom of expression,
freedom of movement and whether we have the view individually about what is happening in Hong Kong and China's kind of over-reach or whether we share a collective view about it, we have a common view."
The fact the Five Eyes had issued a joint statement on Hong Kong prompted an inflammatory response from China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian: "No matter how many eyes they have, five or 10 or whatever, should anyone dare to undermine China's sovereignty, security and development interests, be careful not to get poked in the eye," he said.
It also prompted a statement from the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, saying the joint statement by the five foreign ministers was "a flagrant violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations".
"The Chinese side is strongly concerned about and firmly opposed to it ...
"Five Eyes alliance countries are in no position or basis to level criticism on China on regard to Hong Kong affairs.
"Once the prejudice and arrogance spread, they are like fire burning in the wilderness ... We hope that relevant country [sic] will adhere to an independent foreign policy, maintain the political basis of bilateral relations, refrain from doing bad things that harm friendship, and do more for mutual respect and win-win co-operation."
Jacinda Ardern, however, suggested the Five Eyes was consistent with previous statements by New Zealand on the subject both in open forums and in written statement, and said the response by China was "not unexpected".
"In my view this is the sign of a mature relationship," she said at her recent post-Cabinet press conference.
"We do have an independent foreign policy, we do need to raise concerns where we see them, and it's absolutely the right of China to then respond to that."
Kris Faafoi now has responsibility for the Five Eyes relationship.
New Zealand participates in an engagement called the Five Country Ministerial, which discusses homeland security, immigration and border issues, and Faafoi, who is Justice and Immigration Minister is the lead minister.
Mahuta said in a statement to the Herald: "Joint statements are nothing new for New Zealand. We are concerned at recent events in Hong Kong and have made a number of individual statements, as well as joined partners in a statement regarding Hong Kong in August this year.
"And, over the past few years, we have signed on to joint statements on a number of other issues.
"On this occasion, in order to amplify what we are saying, we choose to join close partners who are expressing common views.
"We will continue to assess on a case-by-case basis, as we have in the past, the best means for articulating our position on issues."
Whether New Zealand continues or increases the use of the intelligence partnership as a public tool of diplomacy may well depend on the pressure of the other four.
But Gillespie that it was likely to be of greater importance to the imminent Joe Biden Administration in the United States than the current one.
"I think Biden is going to re-ignite a lot of the traditional relationships. So I think he is going to go back out into the global world and re-glue and enhance a lot of those security arrangements.
"Groups like the Five Eyes will come more to the forefront."