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Kiwis Ask: Hey, Where Is Everybody?

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US Navy

Guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin at Honolulu Harbor, where two New Zealand warships are berthed for the RIMPAC 2012 exercise; at rear is Aloha Tower.

TOKYO – In a gesture of friendship and goodwill toward an obscure former ally, warships from New Zealand have been granted special, private berthing privileges for a major naval exercise now underway in Hawaii. And wouldn’t you know it: they’re complaining. It seems that while ships from a dozen friendly countries are berthed at crowded, attack-prone Pearl Harbor, two New Zealand warships have been assigned exclusive berthing spots at Honolulu’s lovely civilian harbor, several miles away. All by themselves.

This is the first time that New Zealand forces have been invited to take part in the biennial RIMPAC exercises since New Zealand banned U.S. Navy ships from making port calls there in the 1980s.  U.S. warships are still not welcome. Sensitive Kiwis detect a deliberate snub in the separate berthing arrangements in Hawaii.

“Petty, petulant and pathetic,” says the New Zealand Herald. “What other conclusion is it possible to draw from the absurd, vindictive and ultimately short-sighted refusal by the United States to allow two New Zealand naval vessels to berth at the Pearl Harbor military base?”

A quarter of poll respondents said New Zealand should pull out of the exercise because of the “petty snub.”

Well, sure, but it could be worse. The Kiwis’ temporary home is at the foot of historic Aloha Tower, a short walk from shopping, restaurants, bars and the kind of nighttime, personal-service entertainment long favored by seagoing personnel. The beaches and discos of Waikiki are a quick bus ride away.

Pearl Harbor, on the other hand, is in a different realm. It’s surrounded by guards and barbed wire. Since there are not enough piers to go around, many visiting vessels will tie up side-by-side; no privacy, lots of gangplanks. Water-buses and shuttles are needed to navigate the sprawling facility  (Hey, is that a golf course?), and it takes an hour or more to fight traffic to reach town.

Recall, too, that it was only 70 years ago that hundreds of warplanes attacked the base on a peaceful Sunday morning. Three Japanese warships are among Pearl’s current visitors. I’m just saying.

But Rob Ayson, director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University, in Wellington, says it’s all much ado about nothing.

“Everyone’s missing the big story, which is that New Zealanders are participating in this exercise for the first time in a generation,” says Ayson. “You can look at the limitations that still exist on New Zealand-U.S. port access, or you can say, ‘They’re finding a way to cooperate more closely.’”

The relationship soured in 1984 when New Zealand banned port visits by nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered U.S. warships.  Washington cancelled all joint training programs, and stopped inviting the Kiwis to the RIMPAC exercises, which are the world’s largest naval war games — and a nice place to visit, too. Twenty-two countries, 46 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 troops are taking part this year’s exercise; it began June 29 and runs through early August.

Still, New Zealand troops were among the first to arrive in Afghanistan to back up U.S. troops after 9/11, and the two countries signed a “strategic partnership” agreement in 2010 that signaled a thaw in relations.

U.S. Marines and Army soldiers took part in a training exercise in New Zealand in April, and last month Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and New Zealand counterpart Jonathan Coleman signed an agreement deepening military-to-military ties.

Coleman said this week that he knew in advance about the berthing arrangements, and isn’t worried about it. But it seems to have torqued off at least few pundits and political leaders in Wellington.

“We’re still being given the cold shoulder,” said one TV commentator.

In fact, the two New Zealand warships, HMNZS Endeavor and HMNZS Te Kaha, aren’t completely alone: The USS Crommelin, a guided-missile frigate, is tied up alongside to keep them company. Everyone else is at Pearl until the bulk of deep-water exercises start next week.

Charlie Brown, RIMPAC spokesman, says the Navy “worked closely with the New Zealand navy to ensure their logistic requirements are being met… and the feedback from them so far is they are very satisfied with these arrangements.”

Ayson says that despite the berthing flap, relations between the two countries remain solid. But he says the Kiwis’ location could pose a problem for other RIMPAC participants when they venture downtown.

“By the time the everyone else gets there,” says Ayson, “the New Zealanders will have drunk all the beer.”

135 comments
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Baiwing
Baiwing

My thanks to the Kiwis on this comment page for the history lesson; I knew NZ was a long-time staunch ally of ours, but not to its full extent.  Please don't judge the US by our wingnuts like the one on this comments page who implied that Kiwis were worried about being "sissies". No one that has had any involvement in outdoor sports, especially the "extreme" ones that call for a great deal of courage, would think the Kiwis less than the bravest of the lot. My experience has been that any international white-water tournament, open-ocean sailing event or Himalayan mountain climb will have at least as many, usually more, Kiwis participating than Americans.

nuuanumama
nuuanumama

Kiwis got the choice spot for berthing.  Down the gangplank is Gordon Biersch Brewery, Chai's Island Bistro, Hooters, tons of stores and ten minutes to Waikiki.  If I were them, I'd continue the ban so that they can always have the choice berth at RIMPAC.  Aloha and Mahalo Kiwis!!

Ocenia
Ocenia

Screw the US.

They are not wanted in NZ.

Too much bad blood.

And while those RNZN personnel who have lost their jobs to 'foreign' seamen get their redundancy cheques - they should bear in mind that the US is the greatest invader and destroyer of nations since the Nazis and the CCCP.

It begs the question why we have ships there at all.

The Americans are simply not to be trusted - and they are most certainly not our friends - as they have shown by their actions to date.

mikeinnc232
mikeinnc232

You keep posting poorly thought out and poorly written comments.  Austrailians are America's friends.   New Zealander's are not!  Take you 191 troops and go home and if you are ever attacked by radical islamist, don't come to us for help!!!!

Ocenia
Ocenia

I say screw the US.

Most of the population of NZ is more concerned about being invaded or brutalised by the US than they are by China or Russia.

New Zealand does more business with those countries than the US. That's where more Kiwis are successful - and where NZs future lies.

Not in supporting a country that has invaded more counties and killed more people since the Nazis.

dollyrama
dollyrama

It's time to dumpAmerica and join the Chinese Pacific Alliance.

mikeinnc232
mikeinnc232

It is time for the 200,000 Americans that visit New Zealand and put billions of dollars into the New Zealand economy to stop going there. 

Liber8Me
Liber8Me

While the NZ government and media might be bellowing about this, I will guarantee you that the sailors are loving it.  A short distance away from Ala Moana Center, Waikiki Beach, and all the shopping, restaurants, and entertainment, and yes, women everywhere.  NZ got the First Class Suite, everyone else got the Economy Rooms.

Kalbo53
Kalbo53

The New Zealand government is not bellowing about this as they were told even before our ships arrived there. Just the opposition parties trying to score points and journalists trying to make a big story out of nothing.

bigparch
bigparch

@57nomad: I'm a kiwi, trust me, we don't care. Sure, a few politicians might consider this a snub, but we're too busy concerned about rooting sheep

kiwitom
kiwitom

We get what treatment we deserve from the U S because we are too stupid to be a proper ally of the greatest power in the world. I for one am eternally grateful for the protection of the US in the second world war.I am ashamed of NZ govt. stand on ship visits to NZ. They would be more than welcome by the majority of people.

Jim Drew
Jim Drew

"the kind of nighttime, personal-service entertainment long favored by seagoing personnel"  -- that's a polite way of saying "prostitutes", isn't it?

pc1397
pc1397

Enough chest-thumping everybody (Americans and New Zealanders alike). I'm sure we're all exactly equally tough as nails and way better than the other. The uber-patriots on both sides come off as arrogant and ignorant and way too caffeinated. I'm sure the majority of Kiwi people see through the media headline and don't perceive any snub. Just as I am sure the majority of American-people don't harbor any particular resentment towards New Zealand.  So NZ didn't want us to park our potentially-nuclear-laden equipment in their neighborhood, and we didn't feel comfortable jeopardizing our own safety by reassuring them. Both positions are understandable. Now NZ gets the good seats, or the bad seats (depending on who you ask), at RIMPAC. Everyone agrees berthing at Pearl Harbor is limited, such that an American ship is also displaced. Not a big deal.

NStat
NStat

i doubt many Americans even know about US ships not docking there

f_galton
f_galton

We should be preparing ourselves for the day we finally go to war against 

New Zealand.

mikeinnc232
mikeinnc232

No need to prepare, just send our boy scouts!

Baiwing
Baiwing

 Isn't New Zealand the fourth axis of evil?

noly972
noly972

I was a Pacific sailor for years before I got transferred to the Mediterranean. My ship visited Hawaii numerous times. The best visit I had was when we were berthed where the Kiwis are berthed in Honolulu. At least 90% of the entertainment is within walking distance from the civilian harbor (including Waikiki Beach). I wonder how many of the American sailors are reading this article and saying, "Man, throw me in that briar patch!"

georgeN
georgeN

Wow, did not even know that NZ have warships ..... what an attitude. Let us just send then home

Kummin
Kummin

Churchill once spoke of the "English-speaking nations", meaning those that could be counted on to be allies in many important ways because of a shared heritage. He meant the UK, US, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. New Zealand has shown itself to be unworthy in many public ways to still be counted among the others.

amacdnz
amacdnz

As a Kiwi I am pleased that the US gave us prime parking right next to the best bars in Waikiki... this was intentional and not a snub but a "thank you" to NZ for our support and also a sign of respect that we stand up for what we believe in (no nukes in our waters). Plus NZ boats don't need security as they have no weapons on board just a lot of beer and good guys. So NZ enjoy riding the wake of the big boats and get down (a short walk) to Dukes. Aloha.

Ed_G11
Ed_G11

The Kiwi's are in the best spot to enjoy Waikiki. But the beer is cheaper on base.

Ron Mueller
Ron Mueller

NZ couldn't have gotten a better berth. Like the article points out, they are right in hub of all the activities and sightseeing. Pearl is not a well located base if you want to see all of Hawaii so those in Wellington need to shut up and let our Kiwi fighting forces enjoy the comforts of Hawaii before the exercises begin.

Steve Gregg
Steve Gregg

Why exactly did we defend these Kiwi weenies in WWII?  Maybe we should have let the Japanese have them.  Savor the irony that the Japanese treat us better than the New Zealanders.

Kalbo53
Kalbo53

Because our military was in Europe fighting the Germans since 1939.

airmail56
airmail56

They were given bearths where the non-combatants go.  Why do they have war ships anyway? 

Kathy Brown
Kathy Brown

This from the tiny little arrogant country who insisted on knowing which of our naval ships were carrying nuclear warheads (classified information that most members of our own Congress aren't privy to) or they wouldn't let any of our ships dock in their harbors!  Pay back's a b..tch...!

Sarge27
Sarge27

EVERY country tries to bully another country in some way, whether it is militarily, economically, etc. As we all realize, it is not the work of the common man, but of those in charge, who are sometimes "short sighted" in their actions. I admit that most times there are very valid reasons for their actions that can not be revealed due to security reasons. In the case of New Zealand's refusal to allow nuclear warships and/or nuclear weapons into their ports is understandable. Nuclear weapons and warships make their ports a "target" for any "anti-capitalist" country or group; there is a possibility of a nuclear "accident"; or any other reason the Kiwis are concerned about. They didn't ban the U.S. completely, they just asked and then demanded that we keep them nuclear "free". Why wasn't it negotiated with them that these ships stay a certain distance away from the ports and that they service men and women aboard could be shuttled ashore for their shore leave rather than not stop there at all? I know there are problems, security and otherwise with this solution, but my point is, couldn't it have been worked out? New Zealand's concerns do not make them an enemy or "former" ally. I always thought that "ally's" had each other's backs in any type of emergency or crisis? Isn't that what New Zealand and the U.S. do? The media seems to have triggered an ugly response to a "non-issue" and has caused ill feelings that should not be there! They didn't even suggest that New Zealand was assigned to be berthed where it was because, not only space issues, but maybe because they were located as far away from nuclear weapons and warships to respect their dislike of same? I am very patriotic and love my country, and I also love it when we can get along with other countries of the world. It shows them how great and understanding our country is and hopefully they will aspire to make their way of thinking the same, or close to ours, for a better relationship. We can't condemn them for a difference of opinion, isn't that one of the rights we hold dear??!! We all need to get along, 

because our future depends on it, especially since there are groups out there that would rather kill us all then be friends!!

Slitrobo
Slitrobo

Doing a story of the US shitting on Kiwis and you don't even mention Kim Dotcom. That's just bad reporting. 

Jeff McFall
Jeff McFall

Been there done that - and they are in the best spot available. Right in the middle of where every one of those sailors from the ships in Pearl are headed when they get liberty call. I have participated in several RIMPACs and was on the C3F Flagship when we parked at Aloha Tower, talk about convenience.  Quit your whining or just go back out to sea.

Edward Saucedo
Edward Saucedo

they have it pretty good considering the density of the navy base. They are just looking for something to complain about. They can always pull out and go home.  

scanner101
scanner101

Well, have the Kiwi's reversed their non-nuke ship ban on the US? Then they should stop complaining and see the irony. They are complaining that they are given out-of-the-way  berths, but if we were in NZ, we'd not get a berth at all.

David White
David White

The  hell with them. They ban us from their ports and then have the NERVE to complain where we have them dock? They ought to be glad we don't make them just circle the islands and deny their crews shore leave. Open your damn ports back up, then come talk to us.

Manyote
Manyote

You reap the harvest of the seeds that you sow.  Nuff said.

Bill Kallam
Bill Kallam

Just tell them they're special, so they got the good parking spots in front of Saks. The rest of us are stuck in the Walmart overflow lot.

Daniel Simon
Daniel Simon

I visited New Zealand eight times while with Operation DEEP FREEZE back in the late 80s. Yes, they didn't allow port visits by our ships, but we were always treated very well by the country and its people. To say NZ isn't an ally of the U.S. is pretty unfair. They don't always agree with us and us with them, but they have still been good friends.

And I love the comment at the end of the story about the Kiwis drinking all the beer before the other sailors make it to the area. That sounds like the Kiwis I've known alright!

Eric Gieseke
Eric Gieseke

and they mad et he hobbit shows there too!

freefallingbomb
freefallingbomb

   Kiwi P.M.: “Panetta, cancel those F-35s. Putin promised to deliver 3 times as many PAK-FAs tomorrow for the same price.”

U.S. Defense Minister: “WHAAAAAAAT ???!! No. No. No no, wait wait! Tell your captain he can drop anchor on the 'U.S.S. Arizona'. Ahm... and tell him he's in charge of RimPac now. Remember: I ALWAYS was your best friend!”

Thinkandask
Thinkandask

Did anyone ask the NZ sailors what they think of the berthing or is it the media just going off for attention?

Thinkandask
Thinkandask

The media is bitching about the berthings, what do the sailors say?

ArmyBrat66
ArmyBrat66

They are welcome in our port and have space in prime real estate areas but we are not welcome anywhere in New Zealand and THEY have the nerve to complain???  They should be glad to have been included at all since they are hardly super powers.  Now Australia is more our cup of tea...

CitizenMatt
CitizenMatt

A very small cross section of Kiwis (mostly media) are feeling butt hurt about this. The majority have no problems. I can also tell you that no NZ sailors, ported in Honolulu are complaining.

Tom Rae
Tom Rae

Maybe IF they allowed U.S. ships to visit their country, we'd give them a better spot to park their little boats.

Slappy_McGiggles
Slappy_McGiggles

It sounds to me like they got the best seat in the house rather than a snub. I'm sure those New Zealand sailors aren't complaining.

DonSprouse
DonSprouse

Are the New Zealanders out of their minds? Really? You get invited to RIMPAC, allowed to dock in Hawaii, and you are complaining? How about allowing US Warships to dock in New Zealand? How about accept the peaceful gesture by the US NAVY and suck it up. As said perfectly below by another responder, "There are 300 million Americans that would trade places with you," especially since I am sure our tax dollars are paying for portions of your docking expenses in Honolulu.

Jeff Dover
Jeff Dover

What goes around, comes around...quit complaining...you're lucky to be there at all...

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