Calls to sack Mike Moore
Maori political leaders are outraged New Zealand's Ambassador to the United States, Mike Moore, hosted an event sponsored by tobacco giant Philip Morris and there are calls for him to be sacked.
Moore hosted the Governors and Ambassadors World Trade Reception on Friday night in Washington DC which included discussions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement between the US, New Zealand and up to 10 other countries.
Philip Morris was one of the event's key sponsors.
Just hours before the reception began, Australian embassy staff withdrew because of Philip Morris' involvement.
Maori Party co-leader, and the Associate Health Minister, Tariana Turia, said she was "disturbed" Moore would take part in an event sponsored by "those whose interests lie in selling harmful and deadly products to New Zealanders".
"This should not have happened. We lose faith in our ambassadors, and indeed trust in those who are supposed to be representing New Zealand's interests overseas."
Turia said cigarette smoking killed 5000 New Zealanders a year.
"I cannot believe that we allow such an addictive substance to continue to be sold."
The Government had set a goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.
"As a country, we have a moral and ethical duty to eradicate cigarette smoking, and our trade interests should align with our social development goals.
"Our foreign representatives should be promoting this wonderful vision for New Zealand."
Mana Party leader Hone Harawira called for Moore to be sacked.
"Moore's attendance at this party is a slap in the face for all those who have worked hard to stop the tobacco companies killing thousands of New Zealanders every year, and an insult to those families who have lost loved ones to the country's most addictive drug."
All political parties supported making New Zealand smoke-free.
"Our diplomatic staff need to either get on board with that position or get another job if they can't.
"And the Prime Minister needs to fire off a strongly worded missive to Moore and the rest of our diplomats to that effect."