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New Zealand Alternative is an independent organisation promoting a progressive role for Aotearoa in the world.

New Zealand Alternative was established by a group of New Zealanders with a commitment to an independent, values-driven foreign policy for our South Pacific nation – a New Zealand alternative.

The organisation works creatively and inclusively to discuss and shape an active international role for Aotearoa that honours Te Tiriti o Waitangi, challenges structures of power and inequality and promotes environmental and social justice.

New Zealand Alternative was established in May 2018 by a committee of Dr Nina Hall (Assistant Professor International Relations, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Bologna); Max Harris (author of The New Zealand Project, London); Thomas Nash, (Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Massey University, Wellington); and Laura O'Connell Rapira (Te Āti Awa, Ngāpuhi - Director, ActionStation, Wellington). Dr Evelyn Marsters and Dr Arama Rata (Ngāti Maniapoto, Taranaki, Ngāruahine) joined the committee in 2019.

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Through writing, hui and connections with others, we seek to reframe and shape public debate about the role New Zealand plays in the world.

We propose and promote practical and imaginative ideas for Aotearoa's role on the global stage grounded in progressive values and evidence. We seek to identify concrete opportunities where New Zealand can provide diplomatic leadership and support others to advance international action on peace and disarmament, decolonisation and indigenous rights, feminist foreign policy, alternative models of economics and trade, humanitarian action and environmental protection.

We want to ignite a genuine public conversation about our role in the world.

We’re reaching out to young people, holding meetings in regional towns and centres and seeking out fresh voices and diverse perspectives on the role Aotearoa should play in the world. We want to reach beyond traditional trade and diplomacy experts to listen to the experiences and amplify the voices of artists, musicians, activists, sportspeople and others in their representation of Aotearoa in the world.

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Our areas of focus are:


i. An independent voice

New Zealand’s strongest relationships have traditionally been with Australia, the United Kingdom and United States. With these countries and Canada, we are part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network and M5 network on immigration data sharing. We are also a Pacific country with growing links to countries in the Asia Pacific region. We look at how these relationships affect our independent voice on peace, human rights, decolonisation and other global issues.

ii. Decolonisation and indigenous rights

New Zealand’s founding document is Te Tiriti o Waitangi. This establishes an agreement between the Crown and Māori that should be reflected in our foreign policy. In collaboration with Māori leaders and thinkers we will contribute to discussions on how New Zealand can adopt Te Tiriti-based approaches to foreign policy and support and learn from other decolonisation movements around the world.

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iii. Feminist foreign policy

When Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström took on her role in 2014 she announced an intention to pursue feminist foreign policy, taking a gender analysis of international relations and speaking out against oppression of women. We will explore how New Zealand might adopt a feminist foreign policy.


iv. NZ’s humanitarian identity

Part of our identity in New Zealand is to be a helpful neighbour and a supportive partner. We will look at the potential for NZ to play a stronger role in peace mediation in our region and beyond; opportunities for NZ to once again take a proactive leadership role in global efforts for disarmament; welcoming refugees and advancing discussions on climate migration; and ensuring our aid policy is focused on addressing inequality and driven by the needs of our partners.

v. Environmental justice

This theme includes our approach to international climate action; our approach to preserving the health of our oceans and specifically preventing marine plastic pollution; and our international efforts to advocate for biodiversity. These are all areas where we can provide much needed expertise and leadership on the global stage.


vi. Alternative models for economics and trade

Poverty and inequality within and amongst countries are major drivers of suffering and armed violence. Alternative models of economics and trade, including regenerative and decentralised approaches, are gaining traction internationally. We will look at the role New Zealand can play in pioneering these ideas in our own society and economy and in our trade and development partnerships with others.

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To learn more about us or to get involved please fill in the form below.