The perception of New Zealand held by Pacific leaders is changing, the deputy prime minister of the Cook Islands says.
In a speech in Auckland, Mark Brown said the leaders were comfortable courting a range of partners, even if that makes Wellington uncomfortable.
The views of today are vastly different to when the Cook Islands gained independence in 1965, Mr Brown said.
Then, Pacific leaders would defer to the former colonial masters because there was a view that they knew better, he said.
But that thinking has changed and now leaders are confident of their place in the world and cognisant of their growing strategic importance, Mr Bown said.
With that, the New Zealand's government's Pacific re-set strategy is more of a catch-up to resets that happened in the region years ago, he said.
While emphasising the importance of his country's relationship with New Zealand, Mr Brown added that it was important that Wellington changed the way it engaged with the region.