Bird-flipping welcome for US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in New Zealand
The weather was awful and the mood of the locals wasn't much better when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Wellington.
US media travelling with Tillerson were surprised by the number of people flipping the bird at Tillerson as his motorcade sped through town.
New York Times correspondent Gardiner Harris said he had been in a lot of motorcades but even he was taken back by the negative reaction.
"I've been in motorcades for a couple of years now ... I've never seen so many people flip the bird at an American motorcade as I saw today," Harris said.
Harris wasn't the only one who noticed - US protection officers travelling by with Tillerson were overheard joking about the "warm" Wellington welcome.
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A tweet by NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, about the greeting sparked messages of support for New Zealand.
Great to see we now get the same greeting as third world dictators. #ThanksTrump— Clinton Mueller (@ClintonMueller) June 6, 2017
Good. Thank you, New Zealand!!!!!!— S. Miller (@OompaLoompaUSA) June 6, 2017
Thank you, New Zealand, from your true friends in the currently troubled United States. We will be back!— Deanna McKinney (@UnitedWeWin6384) June 6, 2017
‘On ya, Kiwis! 🇳🇿— Alden Tanaka (@aldentanaka) June 6, 2017
Tillerson's trip coincides with a Stuff/Massey survey of nearly 40,000 Kiwis which shows US president Donald Trump is deeply unpopular.
And Prime Minister Bill English conceded Trump's unpopularity made it more difficult for the US to exercise leadership.
"There's a lot of disagreement in New Zealand with some of the administration's policies but there's always going to be shorter term tension around politics.
"New Zealand have for a long time not liked various presidents of the US and disagreed with their views about our anti-nuke policies for 30 years. But that doesn't prevent us confirming our shared values and cooperating with them on security and defence," English said.
But speaking at a press conference with English, Tillerson thanked him and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee for their warm welcome.
"I'm really delighted we were able to make this stop in New Zealand," he said.
Tillerson arrives in New Zealand to a sea of middle fingers waving at him. Winning! What a complete disaster this admin is #idiotsecstate— Robert Teitel (@tippytoe1951) June 6, 2017
So, apparently Kiwis turned up to collectively hold their middle finger up to Tillerson's motorcade. Good one, NZ!— JuanitaNZ (@Signsoflife27) June 6, 2017
Tillerson &his squad shouldn't be at all surprised at the bird flipping. He represents an ignorant, arrogant and incompetent administration.— meg (@megdnz) June 6, 2017
Just saw a stuff notification about tillerson's motorcade and imagining people in Wellington lining the streets looking like this. pic.twitter.com/XcDq6FIkZG— Tony Kuriger (@TMKuriger) June 6, 2017