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Kiwis flip the bird at Secretary of State

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/06/2017 Karen Sweeney

New Zealand is famous for its native birds but it was the middle finger variety that greeted US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Wellington.

He arrived in the capital on Tuesday morning for a brief visit which included meetings with Prime Minister Bill English and a quick chat with Labour leader Andrew Little.

Protesters had promised "the opposite of a warm welcome" when Mr Tillerson arrived and plenty delivered on that promise, giving the US foreign policy spokesman's motorcade the thumbs down and middle fingers as it travelled from the airport to Premier House.

The reaction quickly attracted the attention of Americans.

"SecState Tillerson's motorcade arriving New Zealand greeted by people signaling thumbs down & display of middle fingers for quitting Paris," NBC News anchor and chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell tweeted.

New York Times' Washington correspondent Gardiner Harris told Fairfax he had "never seen so many people flip the bird at an American motorcade as I saw today".

At a press conference Mr Tillerson thanked Mr English and Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee for their warm welcome to New Zealand.

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