NATO and New Zealand have had regular contact since 2001. During her term in office, former Prime Minister Helen Clark came regularly to NATO Headquarters. Former New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff met the then Secretary General Lord Robertson twice, and regular exchanges have continued since then.
In February 2011, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General travelled to New Zealand, where he held discussions with Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp, Chief of Defence Force R. R. Jones, and other officials. The Prime Minister is expected to come to NATO Headquarters in early June 2012.
New Zealand contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, where the country leads a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan. In July 2011, Bamyan became the first of seven areas to transition to Afghan leadership under a plan announced by President Karzai in March 2011. New Zealand continues to contribute to ISAF including with the New Zealand National Support Element (NSE) based at Bagram Air Force Base (BAF).
This is not the country’s first troop contribution, as several New Zealand officers served in the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In fact, New Zealand continues to support the EU-led force that took over from NATO. New Zealand is involved in meetings and discussions related to ISAF operations, at ministerial, heads of state and government and working level. On that basis, the then Prime Minister Helen Clark attended the meeting of ISAF troop-contributing nations that took place at the Bucharest Summit in April 2008. Foreign Minister Murray McCully participated in such discussions at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010.
The Allies and New Zealand have also moved forward on other areas such as arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, disaster relief and crisis management, and education and training. New Zealand also participates in a number of technical activities, primarily focused on areas related to peace support operations.