The public was not told about full intelligence sharing with the United States resuming last year because the Government does not comment on national security, Prime Minister John Key says.

Some WikiLeaks diplomatic cables about New Zealand were released over the weekend.

The cables talk about sensitivity and secrecy around closer military relations during former Prime Minister Helen Clark's reign, but that while she was initially reserved her attitude shifted.

Among the cables was one which said Mr Key was personally pro-American.

A cable talks about an agreement to keep secret a decision to fully restore the New Zealand-United States intelligence relationship which happened in August last year.

That secrecy was lifted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she commented on it in October last year. Other cables indicate Mrs Clinton's announcement of resumed intelligence ties was inadvertent, because she had been advised in January last year - shortly before she was due to visit New Zealand, a trip that was postponed - not to say anything about it.

Other cables indicated moves to increase the "defence engagement" in early 2008, with both governments agreeing publicity should be avoided.

Green Party MP Keith Locke said it was unacceptable that the resumption of intelligence ties was kept from the public and Parliament.

"Kiwis are proud of our nuclear-free stance, and our refusal to join the invasion of Iraq, and don't want us to get fully into bed with the United States government," he said.

Mr Key defended today secrecy around the move.

"We just don't comment on those things, once you start where do you stop?" he said on Newstalk ZB.

And on TVNZ's Breakfast show he said that the Government did not talk about national security because that would not be in the best interests of New Zealanders.

"Going out there and saying we've resumed that level of exchange of information would then invite a whole lot of other questions which we are not in a position to answer.

"There are a whole lot of things we can't or don't answer just for the protection of New Zealanders there's nothing terribly secret about it in that regard, but it is something we don't talk about."

Mr Key said overall the cables showed a pattern of improved relationships.

"It says the relationship is going from strength to strength because we've restored the intelligence sharing capability we have to its maximum point."


Americans get personal with views on New Zealand's leaders:

Some observers claim Clark only wants to mend fences with the United States to wrest centre ground from the opposition National Party, which is gaining in the polls. We doubt this is her main motive. For one thing, polling suggests up to half of all Kiwis believe New Zealand does not need a closer relationship with the United States, and the anti-American sentiment in the left side of her own caucus is well known. Although Labour is losing ground in opinion polls, Clark is far from being in such crisis that she needs to change her foreign policy to get votes. New National leader John Key is charming and confident, but has been in Parliament for only five years and his practical agenda remains fuzzy. In contrast, while many Kiwis consider Clark cold and some question her integrity, we have yet to meet any who regard her as anything less than competent. The majority seem proud of the way she has helped forge a new, modern identity for the country: clean, green, multicultural, multilateral, creative, and yes - nuclear free. Nor is there a chance of the type of leadership putsch within Labour that has plagued National in recent years.

- by Deputy Chief of Mission David Keegan as Prime Minister Helen Clark prepared for her visit to Washington in March 2007


Although Clark is often viewed as cold and somewhat remote to the aspirations of families - she has no children - Clark and husband Peter Davis have a close bond. Furthermore, she is very close to her parents, sisters and their children and often holidays with them. Her physical appearance is often mocked as dowdy and drab, despite periodic efforts, especially at election time, to inject some glamour into her looks. Clark does not appear to take such mockery to heart and appears to succumb to such "extreme makeovers" only at the behest of her image gurus. But by and large, she gives the impression that she is very comfortable in her own skin and is more interested in substance over style.

- by Charge d'Affaires David Burnett

An analysis of Brash's core self is by no means a linear exercise. He is somewhat of a paradox. Although a classical liberal, free marketer and economic rationalist, he voted for the bill that decriminalised prostitution. He is divorced and remarried; in fact he cheated on his first wife. Brash's residual Presbyterianism is of the liberal variety, not the stern Scottish brand. And his "Christian socialism", which defined his formative years and is a holdover from his father's politics, lingers in a residual social conscience. Rather than a "no" or even "minimal" government advocate, he is a "limited" government man. The government, he has declared, "has a vital role, including funding education and providing a social safety net".

- by former Charge d'Affaires David Burnett