Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has told an American audience that relations between New Zealand and the United States are excellent.
Speaking at the opening of the fifth Pacific Partnership Forum in Washington, he noted how much had changed in bilateral ties since the first such gathering in 2006.
Mr McCully described the relationship then as sub-optimal, in contrast to the present.
The minister highlighted the growing trade relationship with China and addressed concerns that might exist in Washington about Wellington's dealings with Beijing.
"I know that some will ask whether success in our relationship with China has been at the cost of our commitment to core values like democracy and human rights or to important matters like the contested South China Sea.
"I want to be clear that we do not try to paper over differences in our perspectives on such issues."
In opening remarks, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns called the relationship with New Zealand a critical element of what he called Washington's rebalance in the region.