Winston Peters says the "survival of humanity" could depend on the outcome of the planned meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
The US President announced on Friday he'd been invited to talk with the North Korean dictator. The meeting is expected to take place by May, and if it does, will be the first time leaders of the two countries have ever spoken directly to one another.
Mr Kim says he is open to ending the rogue state's nuclear weapons programme - and New Zealand's Foreign Minister says this will be the minimum for ending sanctions against isolated regime.
"It doesn't get any more raw or real or important than this engagement that's coming up," Mr Peters told Newshub Nation on Saturday morning.
"It's seriously important, critically important for a whole lot of reasons - but above all, for the survival of humanity."
Considering North Korea's spotty record when it comes to promises, Mr Peters said we shouldn't "rush to judgement or get overoptimistic - but at least it represents an avenue for hope".
Mr Peters has been to North Korea before, when he was last Foreign Minister a decade ago. Mr Kim's father Kim Jong-il was leader then. Mr Peters' efforts as a special envoy appointed by then-US Foreign Secretary Condoleezza Rice resulted in the delay of the construction of a missile pad.
He refused to be drawn on whether Mr Trump was the right man for the job.
"If you go back over what happened over the last nine years… this is a decisively different moment," said Mr Peters. "I'm not going to pour cold water on what looks like potential success."
Mr Peters said he would be happy to take part in diplomatic efforts if he's asked, and that New Zealand has a role to play in helping give North Korea a "way out" of the economic quagmire decades of corruption and mismanagement has left the country in.
"If a whole lot of countries join in to turn this around, it will not be that expensive."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said "time will tell" if Mr Trump can pull off an unexpected diplomatic coup.