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Maōri MPs ask why NZ military personnel are joining the fight to stop Houthi bombing ships?

Merewai Durutalo

Opposition parties ask why NZ Defence Force staff are joining the fight against Yemeni rebels

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Former Labour defence minister Peeni Henare is asking how sending NZ Defence Force staff to join an international coalition retaliating against Yemeni rebels bombing ships will serve New Zealand’s interests abroad?

“Our Labour spokesperson for foreign affairs made it clear - there is no UN resolution to say that we will come on this together,” the MP, who was at the Ratana celebration today, says. “It’s clear that quite a large number of the European countries aren’t involved in this.”

“We’ve got to continue to ask the question: What does this do to serve New Zealand’s interests abroad?”

“We’re of the opinion that there’s a cautious approach that needs to be taken to the involvement here.”

“Where do we draw the line in terms of our commitment here? What will our people be doing?

And that needs to made clear to the public so we can make sure we protect our interests offshore.”

‘Focus on Gaza ceasefire’

“It’s not the right kind of message we’re sending. We’re proud of New Zealand’s reputation on the international stage and we can’t look at what’s happening in Yemen in isolation from everything else, which is why Labour has made it clear that without a UN resolution and strong support from the international community, that is probably a fight we shouldn’t be getting involved in.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson takes a stronger view and says New Zealand should be focusing all its attention on a ceasefire in Gaza.

“This decision to send our New Zealand Defence Force personnel there will only add to escalating the violence to creating more tension and conflict in the Middle East, which is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.

“It goes against our long history of independent foreign policy approaches and playing a peacekeeping role all around the world so, we’re quite horrified, not surprised, horrified by this decision.”

“That is the message unfortunately that this sends, that we are joining with the US, which is supporting one of the most heinous genocidal attacks on Gaza we have seen. It’s completely unacceptable and we should instead be siding with the International Court of Justice hearing happening right now to call Israel to account for its genocidal actions.”

Hero image: From left: Green MP Teanau Tuiono with L:abour leader Chris Hipkins, and Labour MPs Peeni Henare and Kelvin Davis Photo / Te Ao News

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