Tillerson's stopover in New Zealand came after a visit to Australia with Secretary of Defense James Mattis in which both tried to rebut growing fears the the administration's "America First" approach is turning the country away from its global commitments.
In spite of their differences, the meeting between New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil chief executive and chairman, appeared to have been cordial.
"There's a lot of disagreement in New Zealand with some of the administration's policies but there's always going to be shorter term tension around politics". In his deep Texas drawl, Tillerson also sought to reassure on trade and climate change, insisting the United States retreat from the Paris accord and Trans Pacific Partnership did not represent a retreat from the U.S. commitment to either issue.
"I hope the fact that we are here demonstrates that is certainly not this administration's view or intention to somehow put at arm's length the other important allies and partners in the world", Tillerson told reporters in Sydney.
NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell also seemed a bit surprised at the overwhelmingly negative reaction in New Zealand.
He said that the secretary reassured him of the ongoing engagement of the U.S.in both the economic, defence and security aspects.
May's lead widens ahead of June 8 election - ORB poll
Ukip member Abigail Eatock won loud applause as she told the PM: "You said you wouldn't call an election and you did". May had said she was too busy "thinking about Brexit negotiations" and "meeting voters" to take part in the debate.
The latter part of Tillerson's quote was in reference to the FBI's Russian Federation investigation and the status of that.
"I don't think anyone should interpret that the US has somehow stepped away from these issues or is seeking to isolate itself", said Tillerson Tuesday.
The improvement ties with Moscow becomes the priority for the Secretary of State, this news undoubtedly made happy many USA diplomats.
"Trump and Tillerson - Climate Terrorists", their placards said.
'I don't pretend to advise him on how to communicate, that's up to him'.