Te reo Māori opens PM’s UN General Assembly statement

By Talisa Kupenga

With an orator's comb gifted by Ngāti Rēhia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened her United Nations General Assembly speech with remarks in te reo Māori. 

The words were consistent with themes throughout which challenged the 'America First' message promoted by US President Donald Trump.

The words were part of a wider message which promoted multilateralism and the international community.

Ardern says, "Given the challenges we face today, and how truly global they are in their nature and impact, the need for collective action and multilateralism has never been clearer.

"And yet, for all of that, the debate and dialogue we hear globally is not centred on the relevance and importance of our international institutions. Instead, we find ourselves having to defend their very existence."

A subtle push-back to US President Donald’s Trump's criticism of the UN and its collectivist approach.

In his speech, President Trump said, "We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy.  America is governed by Americans, we reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism." 

Ardern highlighted how this approach could impact New Zealand and the Pacific with reference to climate change.

"If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?

"Any disintegration of multilateralism- any undermining of climate related targets and agreements- aren't interesting footnotes in geopolitical history.  They are catastrophic.”

Ardern concluded by reaffirming NZ's commitment to promoting and defending an open, inclusive, and rules-based international order based on common values.