Never has an Australian Prime Minister looked more at home in New Zealand than Scott Morrison on his flying visit to Auckland today.

"Kia ora" he said as he stepped out of him limo at Government House to receive a powhiri.

It helps that he lived and worked here in the 1990s and still retains personal friendships, including his former tourism boss, former cabinet minister Murray McCully.

But he is also generally more relaxed than his many predecessors, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd.


At the press conference with Jacinda Ardern, he talked about family, the 600 Aussies who helped out after the Christchurch earthquake, the Kiwis fighting fire in Tasmania, the closeness of the two countries and of whanau.

"It's beyond politics, it's beyond sport on occasions, it goes beyond everything," he said at a press conference.

Talking to National Party leader Simon Bridges later he said that the powhiri had been moving because he knew it was about respect, that "mana" was his favourite Maori word, and that it had no equivalent in English.

Turnbull may have understood John Key, but Morrison, or Scomo as he is known, appears to understand New Zealand better.

Having encountered Ardern before at the East Asia Summit in Singapore, Morrison looked genuinely relaxed with her at the podium holding a joint press conference after the annual formal leaders' talks.

The level of comfort and connection undoubtedly made Ardern's decision to sock it to him over deportations easier.

It has rarely been done in the TransTasman relationship. It has been regarded as "not done" in public. The exceptions have been in the nature of insulting quips by David Lange or Sir Robert Muldoon.

Ardern didn't mince words. She employed the strongest criticism yet of any New Zealand Prime Minister or foreign minister about deportations of Kiwi offenders.


In her prepared remarks at the top of the press conference, she said the pair has discussed deportations of New Zealanders.

"In my view, this issue has become corrosive in our relationship over time.

"I made it clear that New Zealand has no issue with Australia taking a dim view of newly arrived non-citizens committing crimes.

"But equally, the New Zealand people have a dim view of the deportation of people who move to Australia as children and have grown up there with often little or no lasting connection to here.

"I'm sure it is a matter we will continue to discuss."

Morrison did not give any hint that Australia would be changing its laws as a result of Ardern's concerns.


But he did give say that they would work through individual cases sensitively.

The pair exchanged NRL gifts, a wee Cronulla Sharks jersey, pink Ugg boots and a koala toy for Ardern's nine-month old Neve, and for him, a Warriors jersey To remind him his club had "stolen" Shaun Johnson.

Morrison has been Prime Minister only since August when Peter Dutton's leadership bid against Turnbull failed.

He has headed back to Australia to approve a Budget, to avoid losing any more votes in Parliament, and to try to beat the odds to win an election in May.

Haere ra.