Minister of Foreign Affairs (New Zealand)

Last updated

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
Flag of New Zealand.svg
Winston Peters, 2019.jpg
Rt Hon Winston Peters

since 26 October 2017
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Style The Honourable
Member of
Reports to Prime Minister of New Zealand
Appointer Governor-General of New Zealand
Term length At Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holder James Allen
Formation24 November 1919
Salary$288,900 [1]
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Zealand
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealandportal

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is a senior member of the Government of New Zealand heading the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and responsible for relations with foreign countries.


The current Minister of Foreign Affairs is Winston Peters, who has held the position since 2017.

Responsibilities and powers

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for overseeing New Zealand's relations with foreign countries and the promotion of New Zealand's interests abroad. [2] The Minister is in charge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including New Zealand's diplomatic staff. The office is often considered to be one of the more distinguished ministerial posts, and has at times been counted as the most senior role below that of the Prime Minister. In terms of actual political power, however, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not as prominent as in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the Minister of Finance being considerably more influential.

Historically, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been a member of Cabinet, with the exception of the Rt Hon. Winston Peters between 2005 and 2008. This situation came about as the result of coalition negotiations in which it was agreed that New Zealand First would take a senior ministerial portfolio but would not join Cabinet.


The first New Zealand foreign minister was James Allen, appointed to the post of "Minister of External Affairs" by William Massey in 1919. Before this time, there was no dedicated ministerial portfolio for foreign relations. A Department of External Affairs was created in 1919 but its functions were limited to administering New Zealand's Island Territories in the Pacific; namely the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau, and the League of Nations Mandate of Samoa. [3] In 1943, a new Department of External Affairs was created to conduct the country's external relations. The older department was then renamed the Department of Island Territories and a separate portfolio called the Minister of Island Territories was subsequently created. [4]

From 1943, the Minister of External Affairs became the main ministerial portfolio for conducting New Zealand's external relations. [5] Like its similarly named Australian and Canadian counterparts, the portfolio was called "External Affairs" rather than "Foreign Affairs" in deference of the British Government’s responsibility for conducting foreign policy on behalf of the British Empire and later the Commonwealth of Nations. [6] The title was changed to "Minister of Foreign Affairs" in 1970 after the Department was renamed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The title became "Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade" following the abandonment of the short-lived "Minister of External Relations and Trade" title, created in September 1988 when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs absorbed the Trade functions of the old Department of Trade and Industry. In 2005 responsibility for trade was split into a separate portfolio, with the title reverting to "Minister of Foreign Affairs".

Historically it has been common for Prime Ministers to take on the role of Foreign Minister themselves, particularly if they have an interest in the field. Several New Zealand Prime Ministers including Peter Fraser, Walter Nash, Keith Holyoake, and David Lange held the External Affairs portfolio. [5] The most recent Prime Minister to do this is Helen Clark in 2008 as Acting Minister, and prior to her was Mike Moore, in 1990. Thirteen Prime Ministers have served as Foreign Minister for all or part of their terms.

New Zealand has had 27 foreign ministers (regardless of exact title). The longest-serving was Keith Holyoake, who held the post for the duration of his 11-year premiership. The second longest-serving, and the longest-serving who was not also Prime Minister, was Don McKinnon, who became Commonwealth Secretary-General.

List of Ministers of Foreign Affairs


   Reform    United    Labour    National    NZ First

No.NamePortraitTerm of officePrime Minister
1 James Allen James Allen portrait.jpg 24 November 191928 April 1920 Massey
2 Ernest Lee Ernest Lee.jpg 17 May 192013 January 1923
3 Francis Bell Francis Bell.jpg 7 June 192318 January 1926
4 William Nosworthy William Nosworthy.jpg 24 May 192624 August 1928
5 Gordon Coates Joseph Gordon Coates, 1931.jpg 25 August 192810 December 1928
6 Joseph Ward Joseph Ward c. 1906.jpg 10 December 192828 May 1930 Ward
7 George Forbes George William Forbes.jpg 28 May 19306 December 1935 Forbes
8 Michael Joseph Savage Michael Joseph Savage Portrait.jpg 6 December 193527 March 1940 Savage
9 Frank Langstone Frank Langstone.jpg 1 April 194021 December 1942 Fraser
10 Peter Fraser Peter Fraser.jpg 7 July 194313 December 1949
11 Frederick Doidge Frederick Doidge.jpg 13 December 194919 September 1951 Holland
12 Clifton Webb Clifton Webb.jpg 19 September 195126 November 1954
13 Tom Macdonald Thomas Lachlan Macdonald.jpg 26 November 195412 December 1957
14 Walter Nash Walter Nash (ca 1940s).jpg 12 December 195712 December 1960 Nash
15 Keith Holyoake Keith Holyoake (crop).jpg 12 December 19608 December 1972 Holyoake
16 Norman Kirk Norman Kirk Portrait.jpg 8 December 197231 August 1974 Kirk
17 Bill Rowling Bill Rowling, 1962.jpg 6 September 197412 December 1975 Rowling
18 Brian Talboys Brian Talboys.jpg 12 December 197511 December 1981 Muldoon
19 Warren Cooper Warren Cooper 1983.jpg 11 December 198126 July 1984
20 David Lange David Lange (cropped).jpg 26 July 198424 August 1987 Lange
21 Russell Marshall Russell Marshall.jpg 24 August 19879 February 1990
22 Mike Moore Mike Moore, 1992.jpg 9 February 19902 November 1990
23 Don McKinnon Don McKinnon (cropped).jpg 2 November 199010 December 1999 Bolger
24 Phil Goff Phil Goff.jpg 10 December 199919 October 2005 Clark
25 Winston Peters Winston Peters, 2019.jpg 19 October 200529 August 2008
Helen Clark
Acting Minister
Helen Clark UNDP 2010.jpg 29 August 200819 November 2008
26 Murray McCully Murray McCully November 2016.jpg 19 November 20082 May 2017 Key
27 Gerry Brownlee Gerry Brownlee Crop.jpg 2 May 201726 October 2017
(25) Winston Peters Winston Peters, 2019.jpg 26 October 2017Incumbent Ardern

Related Research Articles

Prime Minister of New Zealand head of the New Zealand government

The Prime Minister of New Zealand is the head of government of New Zealand. The incumbent Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, took office on 26 October 2017.

Keith Holyoake 20th-century Governor-General, Prime Minister of New Zealand, politician

Sir Keith Jacka Holyoake, was the 26th Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving for a brief period in 1957 and then from 1960 to 1972, and also the 13th Governor-General of New Zealand, serving from 1977 to 1980. He is the only New Zealand politician to date to have held both positions.

Minister of State is a title borne by politicians or officials in certain countries governed under a parliamentary system. In some countries a "Minister of State" is a junior minister, who is assigned to assist a specific cabinet minister and the ministers of state with independent charges. In other countries a "Minister of State" is a holder of a more senior position, such as a cabinet minister or even a head of government.

Global Affairs Canada is the department in the Government of Canada that manages Canada's diplomatic and consular relations, to encourage the country's international trade, and to lead Canada's international development and humanitarian assistance. It is also responsible for maintaining Canadian government offices abroad with diplomatic and consular status on behalf of all government departments.

A foreign minister or minister of foreign affairs is generally a cabinet minister in charge of a state's foreign policy and relations.

Sidney Holland 25th Prime Minister of New Zealand

Sir Sidney George Holland was a New Zealand politician who served as the 25th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 13 December 1949 to 20 September 1957. He was instrumental in the creation and consolidation of the New Zealand National Party, which was to dominate New Zealand politics for much of the second half of the 20th century.

A minister without portfolio is either a government minister with no specific responsibilities or a minister who does not head a particular ministry. The sinecure is particularly common in countries ruled by coalition governments and a cabinet with decision-making authority wherein a minister without portfolio, while he or she may not head any particular office or ministry, still receives a ministerial salary and has the right to cast a vote in cabinet decisions. In some countries where the executive branch is not composed of a coalition of parties and, more often, in countries with purely presidential systems of government, such as the United States, the position of minister without portfolio is uncommon.

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Australia) Australian ministerial position, responsible for overseeing Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Minister for Foreign Affairs is the minister in the Government of Australia who is responsible for overseeing the international diplomacy section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Senator Marise Payne was appointed as Foreign Minister by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in August 2018 following the resignation of Julie Bishop.

Ministers of the New Zealand Government

Ministers, in the New Zealand Government, are members of Parliament who hold ministerial warrants from the Crown to perform certain functions of government. This includes formulating and implementing policies and advising the governor-general. Ministers collectively make up the executive branch of the New Zealand state. In practice, the governor-general is obliged to follow the advice of the prime minister on the appointment and dismissal of ministers.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia) diplomatic relations and trade relations department of the Australian government

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the department of the Government of Australia responsible for foreign policy, foreign relations, foreign aid, consular services, and trade and investment.

Closer Economic Relations Australia–New Zealand free trade agreement

The Australia–New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, commonly known as Closer Economic Relations (CER), is a free trade agreement between the governments of New Zealand and Australia. It came into force on 1 January 1983, but the actual treaty was not signed until 28 March 1983 by the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Minister for Trade, Lionel Bowen and the New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia, Laurie Francis in Canberra, Australia.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is an Australian Government public service central department of state with broad ranging responsibilities, primary of which is for intergovernmental and whole of government policy coordination and assisting the Prime Minister of Australia in managing the Cabinet of Australia. The PM&C was established in 1971 and traces its origins back to the Prime Minister's Department established in 1911.

Malcolm James Campbell Templeton was a former New Zealand Foreign Service officer, who held a number of senior positions, including that of permanent representative to the United Nations, and Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs under Secretary Merwyn Norrish.

Sir Carl August Berendsen was a New Zealand civil servant and diplomat. After being in the Education and Labour Departments he joined the Prime Minister's Department in 1926, becoming its head in 1935. He was the creator of the Department of External Affairs, and collaborated with Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser. He was Secretary for External Affairs 1928–32, Head of the Prime Minister's Department 1932–43, and Secretary of the War Cabinet 1939–43. He attended all Imperial Conferences 1926–43, and assemblies of the League of Nations and later the United Nations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (New Zealand) Runs diplomatic relations and trade relations of New Zealand with other countries

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is the public service department of New Zealand charged with advising the government on foreign and trade policy, and promoting New Zealand's interests in trade and international relations.

Frank Henry Corner was a New Zealand diplomat. Corner served as New Zealand's Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, before becoming New Zealand's third Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1973–1980).

Sir Alister Donald Miles McIntosh was a New Zealand diplomat. McIntosh was New Zealand's first secretary of foreign affairs serving as the principal foreign policy adviser to Prime Ministers Peter Fraser, Sidney Holland, Keith Holyoake, and Walter Nash. He is widely considered to be the father of New Zealand's independent foreign policy and architect of the ministry of Foreign Affairs in New Zealand.

Hugh Templeton New Zealand politician

Hugh Campbell Templeton is a former New Zealand diplomat, politician and member of parliament for the National Party.

The Department of Island Territories is a now-defunct New Zealand government department that was tasked with administrating New Zealand's three Pacific Islands territories—the Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau, and the country's League of Nations mandate Samoa. It was established on 3 October 1919 under the "External Affairs Bill" as the Department of External Affairs. In 1943, the Department was renamed the Department of Island Territories after a separate Department of External Affairs was created to conduct the country's external relations. In 1975, the Department was dissolved and its functions were absorbed back into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the successor to the External Affairs Department.

India–Solomon Islands relations refers to the international relations between India and the Solomon Islands. Neither country has a resident ambassador. The High Commission of India in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea is concurrently accredited to the Solomon Islands


  2. "Ministerial Portfolio: Foreign Affairs". The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  3. "External Affairs Bill", in New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Vol. 185 (3 October5 November 1919), p.337.
  4. Malcolm Templeton, An Eye, an Ear, and a Voice: 50 years in New Zealand's External Relations, 1943-1993, p.1.
  5. 1 2 Malcolm Templeton, ed., An Eye, An Ear, And a Voice, pp.1-2.
  6. Alan Watt, "The Department of Foreign Affairs," in The Times Survey of Foreign Ministries of the World,Department of External Affairs (1921–70) ed. Zara Steiner (London: Times Books Limited, 1982), p.35; James Eary, "The Department of External Affairs," in The Times Survey of Foreign Ministries of the World, p.96.