New Zealand news media had the wool pulled over their eyes by US officials over a mysterious visit by a group of American congress members in mid August.
Curiosity was raised in Rotorua after a US Air Force Boeing touched down, but the Herald website duly reported:
“The mystery of who is on board a US military plane at Rotorua Airport has been solved. Representatives from the US congress are in Rotorua and other parts of New Zealand for several days on an environmental tour.”
“Representatives from the US Congress are visiting New Zealand for several days to examine areas of interest to the US Congress’ House Committee on Natural Resources, including energy and mineral production and export in Australia and New Zealand,” a US consulate spokesman told the media.
“They are meeting with New Zealand Government representatives and private sector representatives in Auckland, Rotorua, and Taupo. The visiting delegation will focus on a range of topics, including natural resources.”
The story died a natural death in the New Zealand media after that, just a routine junket by politicians, or so it seemed. But now that cover story has been blown out of the water by one of the US congressmen involved, Gregorio Sablan, who posted this message on his website:
“One of the most high-powered groups ever to visit our islands arrived by military jet on Sunday. Seven House Chairmen, under the leadership of Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington, left DC on August 9 for the Western Pacific. I traveled with the delegation and at my invitation Chairman Hastings included the Northern Marianas as the third stop on the itinerary.
“In New Zealand and Australia we met with those countries’ leaders concerning the status of negotiations on the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership. We also looked at energy resources – the Maori-owned geothermal power station and the Atiamuri hydroelectric plant on New Zealand’s North Island, and in Australia, Conoco Philips’ LNG terminal outside of Darwin and BHP’s largely-automated coal port in Newcastle. At all our stops we discussed security issues, not only the realignment of U.S. forces to Australia and the Marianas, but also how to ensure supplies of food, energy, and strategically important minerals for the U.S. and our regional allies.”