Jacinda Ardern staunchly defends Winston Peters' Turkey trip

News 26/03/2019

Jacinda Ardern is defending Winston Peters' trip to Turkey, saying he was not there to stop the Turkish President playing video of the Christchurch terror attack at election rallies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan has been playing footage taken by the alleged Christchurch mosque shooter in a campaign video - footage that has been banned in New Zealand. 

He stirred up more controversy after he said any New Zealanders or Australians who travel to Turkey with intentions similar to the alleged gunman would be sent home in coffins like their ANZAC grandfathers in WWI.

The Prime Minister told The AM Show the Government raised the issue of the video before Peters left and it was not the focus of the trip.

"Turkey hosted a meeting that involved Islamic countries in the wake of the mosque terrorist attacks," Ms Ardern said.

"His [Peters] primary focus was not only to express the huge grief New Zealand was experiencing to Islamic nations, [but] also to seek reassurances around the safety of New Zealanders who may choose to travel to Gallipoli.

"The video - we had already set out our thoughts around that directly before he departed."

Ardern said Peters was successful in ensuring Kiwi travellers' safety and managed to secure a completely different position from Turkey than what was being expressed before he left.

"Before he went there was anger, there was a real sense that we couldn't ensure the security of the New Zealanders at Gallipoli from some of the language that was coming out and that changed completely after that visit.

"I just think credit where credit's due, the Deputy Prime Minister went over there with a very specific job at a very difficult time and came out with a very different position from Turkey."

Peters met ErdoÄŸan on Friday (local time), but said he had not raised some of the most controversial comments the president made at his rallies, nor had they discussed the video.

"I did not ask that question because I felt that I did not have to ask it, because they are not doing that anymore," Peters told reporters after attending a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

ErdoÄŸan played the video at a rally hours later, but Peters said in a press conference on Monday the clip had been shortened and blurred.

"It could not have been a bigger change. There are blurred parts of it where New Zealand has been taken out. His personal rhetoric around the video has utterly changed - there's no mention of New Zealand anymore."