'To err is human to forgive is divine': Winston Peters quotes poetry in defence of Jacinda Ardern's China-Japan gaffe

Winston Peters has come to Jacinda Ardern's defence after she mixed up China and Japan in a media stand-up upon arriving in Tokyo. 

"She makes one mistake, probably tired, gets off a plane, and you're all down her throat. Don't you feel bad about that?" Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, said Thursday afternoon. 

In his defence of Ardern, Peters quoted Alexander Pope, regarded as one of the greatest English poets, and the foremost poet of the early eighteenth century. 

"To err is human to forgive is divine," Peters, also New Zealand First leader, said. 

In the poem An Essay on Criticism, Part II, Pope explains how it's easy for people to make mistakes, so we should aspire to be like God, and show mercy and forgiveness. 

Ardern's awkward faux pas after touching down in Tokyo has made global headlines.

In her opening remarks to reporters after touching down in Tokyo, Ardern said: "This is an incredibly exciting time for New Zealand and its relationship with China, sorry excuse me, with Japan."

She later blamed jetlag.

"You'll understand I've been on continuous travel and just this moment stopped here."

The gaffe came just after the Asia New Zealand Foundation released a report questioning if New Zealand had let its relationship with Japan "drift".

Ardern will have a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while she's in Tokyo.  

The pair met twice previously on the margins of international meetings, in 2017 and 2018, but this is the first visit to Japan by Ardern since the signing of the CPTPP.