Has New Zealand fallen under Chinese influence?

The question sounds absurd until one reads and checks successive utterances from New Zealand ministers in recent months, culminating in the quite open statements from Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta that the island country is going cool on its membership in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that counters Chinese moves in Asia and around the world. And Mahuta said that is because New Zealanders are no longer "comfortable" with this long-standing alliance and the pitch of its anti-Chinese statements.

At first sight this seems strange. The Five Eyes alliance, consisting of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, has long been known for its more subtle and balanced efforts in addressing Chinese power while maintaining a fair and equitable relationship with the rising world giant. Both India and Japan have indicated an interest in being more involved. The focus has always been sensibly on containment, as well as cooperation, and on the most sensitive area where future provocations and misunderstandings could most easily escalate into outright warfare — namely, cyberspace and remote but destabilizing interventions of novel kinds deep into other countries’ affairs.