The future relationship between New Zealand and Germany may now be contingent on a kiwi called Whauwhau keeping itself out of strife.

Whauwhau was the kiwi bird that German Chancellor Angela Merkel released on Motutapu Island during her visit to New Zealand in 2014

After her first meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a status update on Whauwhau was the first item of news Merkel delivered to the waiting media.

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"I learned that kiwi Whauwhau enjoys excellent health and is able to live a wonderful life and enjoy life in general which was something I was very pleased to hear."

In lieu of the real thing, Ardern gave Merkel a stuffed kiwi and promised photos of the real native bird.

Such is the importance of a good relationship with German's Chancellor New Zealand should perhaps be thankful a flightless bird can help achieve it.

Ardern was careful to praise Merkel, saying in her opening remarks that Germany shared New Zealand's views and values "and certainly under your leadership, also."

Merkel also seemed to get on with Ardern.

She was not driven to quite the heights of lyricism that first meeting French President Emmanuel Macron inspired in her - Merkel reportedly quoted German poet Herman Hesse: "a magic dwells in each beginning."

The question as to what she had thought of Ardern ended up rather awkwardly being put to her by Ardern herself.

Merkel had been asked how they got on but she missed the question. So Ardern re-phrased for her: "she wants to know if I'm likeable."


"Mein Gott," Merkel exclaimed before saying the meeting was "wonderful," time had flown such was the fun they were having. She followed it up with a "you can be proud of your Prime Minister."

They spoke of running governments under MMP, Merkel voicing some surprise that Ardern had separate agreements with NZ First and the Greens rather than one big coalition document,

Merkel also politely turned a blind eye to Ardern being slightly out of step with herself and many other Western leaders over the missile attacks on Syria.

She thanked Ardern for its "very clear stance" and when asked about differences in the response said "I believe that on the whole, we are as one and share the same position."

She sidestepped a question about New Zealand reporting it could not find any suitable Russian diplomats to expel in response to the use of nerve agent in the UK against Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Ardern stuck to her script of saying New Zealand "accepts" rather than supports those strikes - but she added an "utterly" to the front of it when she said it in front of Merkel, perhaps to make it sound stronger. Later she insisted "utterly accepts" was the same as a no-frills "accepts"

The reason for that blind eye may be because Ardern is not so far astray of the line for it to matter.

It may that Merkel recognises that countries that do not have Russia on their doorstep do not always react the same as those that do - something she alluded to when she spoke of the approach by "we in Europe" and the issues in that region.

She may have been turning her mind to upcoming meetings with the Macron and India's Narendra Modi, whose stance on blaming Russia for the Salisbury attacks comes nowhere near Merkel's own.

Or it may be because New Zealand is a tiny country at the other end of the world and nobody is really bothering to study the nuances of the language other than New Zealand itself.

It may be because the areas on which the leaders see the same - such as trade and climate change - outweigh it.

It may be all of the above. What matters is Merkel described the relationship as "truly excellent."

Ardern just has to keep Whauwhau going, or at least find a doppelgänger for future photos.