New Zealand should open to Asia-Pacific - United Nations adviser Jeffery Sachs

New Zealand should consider opening its borders to other countries which have COVID-19 under control, says a top United Nations adviser.

Jeffery Sachs proposed the idea at the Oceania Regional Conference - a panel which brings together various NGOs and providers of aid from around the Pacific to discuss international development and foreign policy. 

This year the conference was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic - but Sachs says thanks to its geographical advantage the Asia-Pacific region is handling the virus better than any other in the world. 

"The islands have an advantage because you can monitor every visitor... you can stomp on any outbreak before it spreads and it is extremely important that you do so," he is quoted as saying by Newsroom.

Sachs says it should be possible to open the borders of these countries with "very, very active surveillance".

"[You could] form a group of countries that has [got] the pandemic near zero and therefore can re-establish tourism, movement of people, trade, but with a lot of surveillance and protection in doing so."

He was also full of praise for New Zealand's Prime Minister calling her "arguably the best leader in the world".

"If I had to pick one leader in the world exemplifying decency, humanity and competence, I would pick her," he said.

Ardern has previously said she will not open New Zealand to other countries until she is sure it's safe.

The question has previously arisen when some regions of Australia opened to Kiwis who wanted to fly in without quarantine - Ardern refused to reciprocate the action, calling it "too risky".

"We will not open the borders for quarantine-free travel with Australia until it is safe to do so, because doing it too early risks losing all the freedoms that we already have in our economy," she said in early October.