Bird-flipping welcome for US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in New Zealand video

CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ.

Bill English Answers Questions on Rex Tillerson Visit

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.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Premier House on a bleak Wellington day.
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Premier House on a bleak Wellington day.

"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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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comes face to face with Wellington's weather after landing in New Zealand.
POOL/LLOYD BURR

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comes face to face with Wellington's weather after landing in New Zealand.

A tweet by NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, about the greeting sparked messages of support for New Zealand.

Tillerson was met by Foreign Affairs minister Gerry Brownlee at the airport.
POOL/LLOYD BURR

Tillerson was met by Foreign Affairs minister Gerry Brownlee at the airport.

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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.

STUFF.CO.NZ

Rex Tillerson speaks to NZ media after a short meeting with Prime Minister Bill English.

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.

 - Stuff

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