Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison engaged in BBQ banter in Singapore at their first meeting before getting into more meaty issues about deportation of Kiwis, the Pacific and Iraq.

Ardern began by suggesting that the most pressing transtasman issue of the day was whether to put onions under or on top of a Bunnings sausage on bread - reportedly a real health and safety issue in Australia.

Morrison went along with the joke, not for the first time because he had been questioned on it at his own press conference earlier in the day.

But in opening remarks Morrison, who worked in New Zealand in the 1990s as a tourism official, said New Zealand and Australia's timetables were aligned in relation to Afghanistan and Iraq.


He said the two countries also had a shared commitment to the Pacific "and I think in many ways New Zealand has demonstrated the family approach to how we should all operate in the Pacific and we are seeking to take a similar approach, obviously on a large scale".

"I think it would be good to talk about how we can align those two initiatives because we have the same deep commitment and family commitment to the region."

Jacinda Ardern give Scott Morrison a bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir. Photo / Pool Picture
Jacinda Ardern give Scott Morrison a bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir. Photo / Pool Picture

Ardern spoke to New Zealand reporters after the meeting and said half an hour with Morrison was not enough but they spoke briefly about issues of citizenship and deportations, the Pacific and military deployments.

Ardern avoided saying whether Morrison had been sympathetic to her concerns about deportation of New Zealand citizens who had no or little connection with New Zealand.

"He acknowledged that and there is discretion in the system but for me it was important to make a point."

She said the atmospherics were warm and "in our relationship with Australia it is hard to find anything closer".

"It is also hard to find any relationship that has the same friendly rivalry that we have as well but that depth of relationship means that we can raise issues when they arise."

Ardern said she expected to speak with Morrison further between events in Singapore – or in Papua New Guinea which is hosting Apec at the weekend.


She intended to raise the issue of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island in those conversations.

Ardern gave Morrison a bottle of Central Otago pinot noir and he gave her a silver tray made by a Melbourne artist.