On location in New Zealand: Ian McKellan as Gandalf in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” (James Fisher/Warner Bros.)

Secretary of State John Kerry faces challenges in hot spots around the world. Syria. Iran. North Korea. And ... New Zealand?

Perhaps thinking that he’d start out with the easy stuff — the way one eases into a workout with a few shoulder rolls — the newly minted SecState’s very first public statement addressed the crucial issue of congratulating the people of New Zealand, who are celebrating Waitangi Day, the anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi (or, as Kerry notes, “Te Tiriti o Waitangi.”)

The day before — his first at State — Kerry indicated that he planned to grapple with the thorny Middle East peace process during his tenure leading the agency.

But first, a little warm-up.

“This is an opportunity to reflect both upon New Zealand’s unique culture and diverse heritage and to celebrate the promise of the future as new generations carry on your rich traditions,” Kerry said in his inaugural missive, hailing the diplomatic ties between the U.S. and our Kiwi cousins.

We would have awarded him bonus points if he had managed to make a “Lord of the Rings” reference.

And now, back to that Israel-Palestine thing ...