Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asks New Zealand to help remove landmines

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken directly to New Zealand, becoming only the second foreign head of state to ever address our Parliament.

He had a specific request for us: help remove the landmines.

There was a waiata in Parliament for a war a world away. 

Zelensky streamed in, beginning his address with "kia ora". 

"We are grateful to you, dear friends, for the fact that New Zealand was one of the first countries to support Ukraine," he said. 

Following his speech, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the war in Ukraine prompted: "We asked ourselves the question, what if it was us?"

In the debating chamber, our politicians were united with Ukraine's colours pinned to their chests.

"Yours is not a forgotten war," said Ardern.

"You have been our generation's Winston Churchill," said National's Christopher Luxon.

"We today have one role, one role only, and that is to fight for peace," said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa Packer. 

Zelensky's address spurred a sanction on Iran for supplying Russia with deadly drones and more aid.

"We're committing an additional $3 million through the International Committee of the Red Cross," said Ardern.

Some used the opportunity to talk to a man leading his country through war to push their own agendas.

"If the Government changes before you win, the New Zealand Government will do a lot more than the $3 million you saw today," said ACT's David Seymour. 

"There are many other peoples still, on every continent, who are also suffering from violence and subjugation," said Greens co-leader James Shaw. 

While the Ukrainian President listened intently to the speeches, they apparently bored others. Education Minister Chris Hipkins was signing Christmas cards.

Zelenskyy clearly knew his audience though. He asked for help clearing Ukraine's environment of landmines.

"Your society is truly a wise one. The economy and infrastructure can be reconstructed, well, of course, it might take years, but you can't rebuild the destroyed nature," he said.

"We do have a reputation in, for instance, removing unexploded ordinances. There is a role that we can play and I believe we should," replied Ardern.

She was promising the president the support won't stop.

"We will support you, kia kaha, kia aia, kia manawanui, Slava Ukraini."

Zelensky said: "Thank you for your attention. Nga mihi. Glory to Ukraine."

This was a historic day. Zelensky is only the second world leader to speak to New Zealand's Parliament. He used it to give Aotearoa a new avenue to help landmines.