The Wikileaks US Embassy cables given to the Herald on Sunday provide a fantastic insight into the governance of New Zealand and the role of foreign diplomats here.

Political scientists and historians will pore over these cables for years in an attempt to understand and rewrite some of the most vital episodes and issues in New Zealand politics.

The revelations of pharmaceutical political subterfuge towards Helen Clark in the 1980s might now provide further credence to her claims she was subject to foreign spying.

Some details are shocking but not surprising. Many New Zealanders would have already suspected some of the details but will still be shocked to have their suspicions confirmed.

For instance, big business is already distrusted by many New Zealanders.

But the public will be very unimpressed to find that the pharmaceutical industry attempted to have a Minister of Health removed.

As a result of the release of these cables there will be much greater public suspicion of the foreign embassies operating in Wellington. At the moment they are viewed mostly in neutral terms, with the general idea that embassy staff are here to foster better relations between our countries.

These cables paint the embassies in quite a different colour - that they're here to further the interests of their own countries, to promote big business interests and often play a role of subterfuge or dishonest interventions in our national affairs.

- Dr Bryce Edwards is a political scientist at the University of Otago.