The bill for New Zealand's push to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council is climbing as the Government pulls out all the stops by wining and dining diplomats from around the world.
As many as 60 diplomats have been flown to New Zealand so far as part of the country’s push for a Security Council seat - with another group here this week visiting Queenstown and other areas, before moving on to Hamilton for the national agricultural Fieldays.
Prime Minister John Key has confirmed he hosted one group of UN permanent representatives during their fully-funded tour through New Zealand - including entertaining them at Government House.
But he rejects suggestions that New Zealand is trying to buy their votes - though the Government has consistently refused to say how much it has spent on the bid so far.
NZ has been lobbying for a seat on the Security Council since 2008, when former prime minister Helen Clark announced the bid.
With a vote looming at the end of this year, the Government has stepped up its diplomacy, with Key set to return to New York next week to glad-hand more potential supporters among the 190-strong UN diplomatic corp.
The vote is by secret ballot and the permanent representatives hold huge sway over the outcome, with some given discretion on how they vote by their governments.
New Zealand is up against Turkey and Spain for one of the two seats.
Key said today it was a seven-year long contest and New Zealand had invested "a lot of time and energy" getting back onto the Security Council, on which it last served 20 years ago.
"Many new Zealanders would say it's right that New Zealand has a place on the Security Council every so often. It costs money to do that and making sure those who are going to vote have a bit of a sense of our country's values and principles that underpin New Zealand and our record and history is important."
The cost of entertaining foreign diplomats was "small beer" compared to what countries like Australia had spent on their bids.
Bringing them out here was about making sure they understood New Zealand's position "having invested seven years in the process".
It might make them "a bit more likely" to vote for us - ‘‘but if you're not going to run a proper campaign you may as well not run one at all", Key said.
The "official" itinerary released by the Government:
· A seminar on New Zealand’s experience on sustainable agriculture and the work that New Zealand is doing internationally on the transfer of agricultural technology
· Site visits to New Zealand companies (e.g. Dairy Coat Co-operative, Pacific Aerospace) to demonstrate New Zealand’s innovation and technology credentials
· Discussions on food security
· Policy discussions on New Zealand’s experiences with the Treaty Settlement process
· A seminar on New Zealand’s contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts, and on our regional approach to peace-building.
· A seminar on renewable energy and the post-2015 development agenda.
· A series of site visits to renewable energy infrastructure, such as Aratiatia Dam hydro-electric power station.
· A site visit to the Tuaropaki Trust to demonstrate a sustainable development business model.
· A visit to Te Puia in Rotorua to demonstrate some of the approaches that New Zealand uses to safeguard indigenous culture.
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