Return to DecisionMaker Publications main menu.  Return to Guide contents page. Meet the team. Using the DecisionMaker Guide site. Places on the web that interest us.
Order your copy of the Guide or other DecisionMaker publications.
A directory of Government agencies.
Exercises and worksheets for highschool students.
The big picture
Link to the big picture
Link to How the law works
Link to How Parliament works Link to How government works

Search in DecisionMaker

Pieces of a whole
Sovereignty: from the Treaty of Waitangi to the United Nations
Sovereignty challenged
Te Tiriti o Waitangi
How it all fits together
Representing the Queen
Three branches of government
MMP's first decade
Watchdogs for democracy
National identities
Association of former Members of Parliament
Pacific citizens
How consultation works
How participation works





We have been, and always will be, building our own identity in a world of many nations. We can never be alone. We accept the reality of interdependence. We understand that our welfare and our way of living will always be affected by the actions and attitudes of others. We do what we can to develop an international system that works not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of all.

Nations rely on a variety of arrangements with partners and allies. International and intergovernmental institutions – joint efforts – establish conventions, set rules and standards. More and more, developments in trade and finance, communications and transport, or the provision of security, are based on collective action. Together the nations are articulating ideas, a vision perhaps of what a really civilized world society would look like.

Though fifty years ago there was great excitement as more countries achieved independence, there was also a counter-trend that produced the UN and its Specialised Agencies, the GATT, the WTO and countless other international institutions: closer to home the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) amongst them. People had seen the need for collaboration. The result can be understood as independence-plus, independence in association with others of like mind.

New Zealand was a foundation member of the UN and has been an active participant in many organisations, both global and regional, greatly to our benefit. We have had opportunity to support initiatives or options that seemed likely to contribute to world peace and prosperity – and our own welfare. We have opposed others. We have at times had to make concessions.

We have promoted measures such as those which would spread the recognition of human rights or the protection of the environment, or which would reinforce our own efforts to combat transnational crime or the spread of plant and animal pests and diseases. We have contributed to a number of peace-keeping operations.

Often enough we have had to argue with others who, unreasonably as we have seen it, were putting their narrow national interest ahead of the welfare of the majority: they have been nationalists rather than internationalists, and carried nationalism too far. (In the trade context they have been accused of being protectionists.) They have not been prepared to make political sacrifices to achieve a collective good.

All this is reflected in our legislation, a significant proportion of which is directed to meeting our international obligations and the standards and rules to which we subscribe. In this way provision is made, for example, for the Closer Economic Relations (CER) and our many other arrangements with Australia.

Some people, inevitably, in this country and others, see this as erosion of sovereignty, an encroachment on our true identity. Decisions, they say, are being taken elsewhere: we simply conform. We have surrendered our independence.

The answer is that we have taken responsible choices. Having assessed the benefits of collective action, we have willingly worked with others, to our own advantage and theirs.

This is an integral, a crucial part of our identity. We are proud to be known as a good international citizen. Just as in his or her town a good citizen observes standards and collaborates with neighbours, more than ever in this era of globalisation an independent nation works with others, for its own benefit and to achieve a better and more civilized world.

by Roger Peren, an adviser to the Centre for Citizenship Education

Updated 15 December 2005


Orb above Wellington city

Is this an image about interdependence? - it hangs above a public open space near Wellington civic buildings


Affiliated programs Sitemap Privacy Accessibility Terms of use

Search powered by
Google New Zealand W3C HTML Guidelines

Copyright © 2006 Asia Pacific Economic News Ltd. All rights reserved. Users of the Guide are free to make copies or entire pages for personal or educational use, but not for commercial purposes. Copies of individual photos or ilustrations may not be made without the permission of the copyright holders. Use of this website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use.