Two international stars of the puppet kind are in Wellington, and already setting out to charm us all.

Kermit from the Muppet Show, and Ernie from Sesame Street, came to Te Papa for their only press conference while they're in the country for the Jim Henson Retrospectacle.

To add a local flavour to the star power, they were interviewed by Oscar-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie.

Bret McKenzie asked Sesame Street's Ernie and the Muppet's Kermit what they thought of New Zealand. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Bret McKenzie asked Sesame Street's Ernie and the Muppet's Kermit what they thought of New Zealand. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Flight of the Conchords star made sure to ask them what everyone wanted to know: did they like New Zealand?

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"I really like how green it is. That's important to me," Kermit said.

"I'd love to take the people of New Zealand home. But there's not enough luggage to fit them all."

The famous frog planned to see more of Te Papa, and visit one of the seal colonies on the south coast.

"Probably audition some seals. We're always looking for new talent for our show."

Ernie said he thought New Zealand was beautiful, and that he planned to see Wellington's bucket fountain.

"That's always been on my bucket list."

While Ernie may be in Wellington solo, when McKenzie asked where Bert was, Ernie was quick with a zinger.

"Where's Jemaine?" Ernie asked pointedly.

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"Nobody's asked me where Miss Piggy is," Kermit piped up.

There was an answer later in the press conference – apparently Ernie couldn't get Bert out of the bathroom.

Bret McKenzie with Sesame Street's Ernie and the Muppet's Kermit during the Jim Henson Retrospectacle press conference at the Papa, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Bret McKenzie with Sesame Street's Ernie and the Muppet's Kermit during the Jim Henson Retrospectacle press conference at the Papa, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"He just keeps flushing the toilet. He's fascinated by the water going around."

Behind all the jokes is serious show business.

The puppets, and the performers behind them, are in town for a 21 day showcase event which pays tribute to Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, and contributor to Sesame Street, as well as several other childhood favourites including Fraggle Rock.

The finale event will take place this weekend, with a special live concert performance with the NZ Symphony Orchestra, McKenzie, and many of the beloved puppet characters.

McKenzie said many people grew up with the Muppets, and now played their favourite songs and sketches to their own children.

But when he became involved, he discovered the difficulty of working with puppeteers. He had to write songs and performances that gave the puppeteers literal "down time" for their arms.

"They can't have their arms up for too long, or they'll swell up," he said.

"There are also specific ranges that a character can sing in.

"So sometimes I would write a song for Miss Piggy, and it would go too deep, and I would be like whoa, that sounds like a dude.

"So it was about getting it back into a range for the character."

The live concert performances are on this weekend, Friday 27 and Saturday 28, at Wellington's Michael Fowler Centre.