30 Nov 2022

Jacinda Ardern and Finland PM Sanna Marin hold media briefing

12:41 pm on 30 November 2022

Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin is in New Zealand and has been speaking to media alongside Jacinda Ardern.

It is Marin's first official tour of New Zealand.

At the briefing Ardern said the talks she has held with Marin affirmed the warm relationship between two countries which were both committed to democratic values.

Finland PM  Sanna Marin in Auckland and Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Ardern greets Sanna Marin in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Asked if the leaders were meeting because they were a similar age and had a lot in common, Ardern said: "I wonder whether or not anyone every asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age.

"Because two women meet it's not simply because of their gender."

Ardern said Finland exports to New Zealand were worth $199 million and included technology in companies like Nokia, biofuels and agricultural machinery. New Zealand was trading about $14m worth of mostly wine and beef.

There was "huge potential" to progress trade, and meetings with the high-level Finland trade delegation which accompanied Marin's visit was an opportunity to do that.

"We are meeting because we are prime ministers," Marin said.

Bilateral talks between Finland and NZ - Sanna Marin visits

Sanna Marin and Jacinda Ardern attend bilateral talks between delegations from the two countries. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

They had discussed the challenges facing the world, especially Russia's invasion of Ukraine which both had strongly condemned.

The conflict was literally on Finland's doorstep, Ardern said.

Marin stressed the need for both countries to work together to advance their common values.

She said both also needed to continue their efforts in support of Ukraine.

"We need a hard power when it comes to Ukraine. They need weapons, they need financial support.

"They need, right now, our support. And we need to make sure they win.

"We need to make sure the sanctions are harder and harder against Russia."

She said while the people of Ukraine were suffering on a daily basis, the war was also having an impact worldwide.

"We need to make sure the war stops as soon as possible."

She expressed a hope that her visit - the first by a Finnish PM to Aotearoa - would move the relationship between two countries enjoying an excellent relationship to the next level.

Both leaders were asked about the responsibility they felt as being in the minority as women leaders.

Ardern said it had been among the topics they had discussed and they had looked at what they could do together, especially where human rights were being violated.

Marin said they both wanted to stand together over equality and women needed to have the same rights as men around the world.

It was important to show the younger generation people could be themselves, engage in politics and make a difference.

The leader made headlines this year after the 36-year-old was filmed partying with her friends.

The footage was leaked on social media - leading to a national - then international - outcry, and ended in the prime minister being forced by political pressure to take a drugs test, which came back negative.

When a photo was later published of two influencers kissing partially topless at her official residence Kesaranta at a different event, she apologised and admitted it was "inappropriate".

During the media briefing Marin was asked about the party PM row and responded she had many more important issues on her plate and not much free time.

In July, Finland was invited to join NATO after the country had long held a non-military-aligned status.

It had maintained a cordial relationship with Russia - but the war in Ukraine changed that.

Marin will be in New Zealand until tomorrow.