Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Assessing the motivations of New Zealand’s International Interventions: From Practice to Theory

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posted on 2021-11-15, 00:48 authored by Mitchell, Matthew

Since the end of the Cold War New Zealand has participated in numerous international interventions, both within the Asia-Pacific region and further afield. As a small state with limited resources and influence what have been the primary motivating factors that have influenced New Zealand’s decisions to intervene? Can the decisions to intervene be best explained by realism, liberalism, constructivism, or a combination of these theories? This essay will assess the motivating factors for New Zealand’s involvement in international interventions by analysing four case studies where New Zealand participated in an intervention – Bosnia, East Timor, Afghanistan, and the Solomon Islands. This essay will also assess whether the motivating factors for intervening within New Zealand’s geographic region differ from those outside its region, and whether there is a difference in approach taken by the two main political parties in New Zealand – Labour and National. The essay concludes that while there were elements of realism and constructivism in the decisions to intervene, liberalism provides that best explanation for the decision to intervene in three of the four case studies. The fourth case study, the Solomon Islands, is best explained by the realist factors of regional security and upholding New Zealand’s relationship with Australia. The essay finds that while the motivations for intervening in three of the four case studies were similar, the motivations for intervening within the Asia-Pacific region were slightly more realist. The motivations to intervene were similar regardless if National or Labour were in government.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Strategic Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Strategic Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Rolfe, Jim