It took nearly 40 minutes for the two of them to acknowledge each other openly.
Sitting on opposite sides of the stage last night, Prime Minister Helen Clark and billionaire philanthropist Owen Glenn looked anything but the funding partners they are in Auckland University's new business school building.
Mr Glenn and Helen Clark's Government both gave money for the building and, after much speculation this month about what Mr Glenn was offered for his donation to the Labour Party, both were there to celebrate the opening.
Helen Clark, seated with her husband Peter Davis and a handful of ministers, looked happy to be there, but perhaps also a little tense.
It was Mr Glenn who finally got the chance to break the ice, saying with a wry grin that he would love to say hello to the Prime Minister first.
A loud laugh spread across the audience, lessening the tension that surrounded this meeting of Labour's leader and the donor who has made her life a misery in recent days.
But Mr Glenn, who gave $7.5 million to the business school, wasn't finished yet.
After reflecting on his personal story of leaving school at 15 but ending up at Harvard, Mr Glenn got to a part of his speech that he said he had not written, but had been told to say.
Out came a corny-sounding line about New Zealand needing to punch above its weight.
Helen Clark applauded Mr Glenn's speech and it was not long before it was her turn to take to the lectern - but only after smiley shots of the pair together were shown in a video about the Owen G. Glenn Building.
They were the only images of the pair smiling together to be seen on the night.
Helen Clark waited until late in her speech to pay tribute to Mr Glenn, saluting his generosity.
Outside, Mr Glenn prepared to cut a ribbon, and the Prime Minister Clark waited to unveil a plaque.
Somehow, Helen Clark's loyal colleague Trevor Mallard always seemed to be between the two.
The PM beamed as she unveiled the plaque, but kept her distance from Mr Glenn, and after the ceremony, Mr Mallard ushered him through a different door to the one she used.
A request for a picture of the two with the plaque was declined by the Prime Minister's press secretary.By Paula Oliver Email Paula