Leaked diplomatic cables by Wikileaks confirm that the United States raised with New Zealand the prospect of a visit by former President George W Bush to New Zealand.

But it appears to have been turned down by Labour on the grounds that it would have been too hard to manage in an election year, 2008.

Reference is made to a "presidential visit" in a cable dated October 2007 from the US Embassy in Wellington to Washington.

It reports a discussion between the then Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and New Zealand's Secretary of Foreign Affairs at the time, Simon Murdoch - the notes were taken by the US embassy's deputy chief of mission in Wellington at the time, David Keegan.

"Murdoch recalled that he had mentioned to Hill when they met during the Forum [Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga two days previously] that a Presidential visit in a year with elections on both sides might be difficult to manage, but New Zealand would welcome a visit by the Secretary of State [Condoleezza Rice]," the cable said.

"He had subsequently spoken to the Prime Minister [Helen Clark] and Foreign Minister [Winston Peters] and they had both endorsed that assessment."

While New Zealand and the United States both held an election in November 2008, Mr Bush had served two terms and was not seeking re-election.

The cable canvasses a broad range of issues including New Zealand's involvement in Afghanistan and it says that the Government was considering bringing Afghanistan police to New Zealand for training - something that didn't happen.

It also said the Labour-led Government had been considering redeploying the SAS to Afghanistan for a fourth time - which it did not do.

In a more recent cable, dated November 2009, under a National-led Government, it criticised the opposition of Labour leader Phil Goff to the current deployment of the SAS.

"The political imperatives behind Goff's posture are transparent to most Kiwis," the cable says.

"He stands at the right end of the political spectrum of the left-centre Labour Party. To maintain his tenuous grip on party leadership, Goff needs to convince the left wing of the Labour base that he represents their concerns."

The first batch of New Zealand cables were leaked in December. The second batch were leaked at the weekend. The following are among the subjects covered:

Labour's David Cunliffe
When Labour's David Cunliffe was Immigration Minister he expressed concerns about radical imams coming to New Zealand to stir up trouble, according to one of the Wikileaks cables in June 2007.

Mr Cunliffe was the subject of a cable in June 2007 after a lunch with the Auckland-based US Consul General John Desrocher. He had said that Muslims in New Zealand drew suspicion and hostility from other Kiwis who viewed them for no good reason as a security threat.

The cable said he had also expressed some concern that more radical imams were "trying to enter the country to stir up trouble."

"Asked what tools he had to exclude those who have committed no crimes but still might be considered a threat, Cunliffe turned coy: 'Some people simply find their visas don't get renewed,' he said."

The cable said Mr Cunliffe, a practising Christian, also spoke to the embassy about how Labour had "neglected" those New Zealanders to whom faith was important - "a failing the party would attempt to rectify between now and the [2008] election," the cable said.

Five influential women
Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon host Kathryn Ryan was regarded by the US Embassy as among New Zealand's five most influential women.

In a cable dated February 2007, former Prime Minister Helen Clark is rated No 1, chief Justice Sian Elias was No 2; former Governor-General Dame Sylvia Cartwright, who had just become an international judge in the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal, was No 3; Publisher and businesswoman Wendy Pye was No 4; and Kathryn Ryan was No 5.

Don Brash
The marriage problems of Act leader Don Brash when he was National leader were the subject of a September 2006 cable headed "National leader's extra-marital affair threatens his party's agenda."

It didn't name Diane Foreman but said Brash had taken leave of absence after the revelations he had been having an affair with a member of the Business Roundtable, and had faced a fractious caucus. Another cable in July that year says a Wellington-based Australian diplomat believed Simon Power was "poised to challenge Brash for the leadership." Brash went in November 2006, giving way to John Key.