Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand needs to start seeing itself as a part of the Pacific Island community.
Ms Ardern is on a five-day trip to Samoa and Tonga where she will see some of the recovery already underway following Cyclone Gita.
On Monday she pledged nearly $10 million in aid to Samoa, and is due to arrive in Tonga on Tuesday, which was the worst-hit island nation.
She took umbrage to suggestions she's running a "charm offensive" in the region, telling The AM Show host Duncan Garner that New Zealand is actually trying to "reset" its relationship.
"You are so cynical Duncan... I wouldn't call it a charm offensive. Pacific missions are something that New Zealand Governments have been doing for a long time.
"This particular one off the back of Cyclone Gita is pretty focused on recovery."
The storm hurled its force at Tonga last month, flattening thousands of homes and leaving many homeless.
"I was just on the plane, for instance, looking at aerial maps of the damage in Tonga and it is significant," she said.
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Ms Ardern repeated Foreign Minister Winston Peters' sentiment that New Zealand needs to "reset" its relationship with the Pacific.
"We've had, in the past, a donor-recipient relationship. And yet these are nations where we have strong friendships, partnerships, where they have mature democracies.
"We need to start changing our relationships but also acknowledge that actually the Pacific is our backyard. We are part of a wider donor environment, but our relationship is different."
Mr Peters told RNZ last week New Zealand directs 60 percent of its development spending to the Pacific, but aid spending declined comparatively under National's government.
Ms Ardern says there will likely be more funding under her leadership.
"We want to make a concerted effort over the next term to really make sure we put a focus on the Pacific because we're a member of it.
"It's a part of who we are as well."