If Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison meet on Sunday in Queenstown, as planned, it will be their first face-to-face encounter in 459 days.
Despite having been in regular digital contact throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, sometimes multiple times a day on pressing issues, there is no substitute for kanohi ki te kanohi contact.
Morrison probably knows what that means. He immersed himself in New Zealand when he worked in Wellington heading the Office of Tourism and Sport in the late 1990s and he drops in words such as kia ora and whānau when talking to Kiwis.
He and Ardern have had face-to-face meetings on at least six other occasions, either at the annual bilateral talks, Apec or Pacific summits, or other forums.
They get on just fine, despite the occasional very public demarches by Ardern against Australia, and points of tension on the policy agenda such as Australia's treatment of expat Kiwis or New Zealand's stance on China.
This is not Morrison's first overseas visit since Covid-19. He went to Japan in November last year to meet its new Prime Minister but it's his first visit this year and both PMs are taking their spouses, Jenny Morrison and Clarke Gayford, to Queenstown.
After their last meeting, in February 2020, on the lawn of Sydney's Admiralty House, Ardern tore strips off Australia for several crimes against fairness, the treatment of law-abiding Kiwis in Australia who, for example, pay the levy for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but are excluded from it.
She condemned the deportation of Australian-raised criminals to New Zealand, although she had warned Morrison privately what she was going to do publicly.
It didn't alter Morrison's policy, politeness or demeanour one jot, despite reinforcements for Ardern from an Australian journalist who asked him: "How do you send someone 'home' when blind Freddy can see that their home is here?"
"It is not an anti-New Zealand thing," says University of Auckland politics professor Jennifer Curtin, who has dual citizenship. And it did not signal an all-time low in New Zealand-Australia relations as some had decided at the time.
Tough measures and rhetoric against New Zealanders in Australia had happened before under Paul Keating and John Howard. It was part of a domestic and nationalistic agenda on tighter border security.
Ardern had been doing her own domestic politics, says Curtin, speaking to the 700,000 New Zealanders who live in Australia and Kiwis concerned at what Australia was doing.
"I think a lot of New Zealanders wanted to hear one of our leaders call out Australia, knowing full well that all that has happened is a call-out. It is not going to lead to Australia changing its domestic policy," says Curtin.
Ardern is the first New Zealand Prime Minister for decades to have so publicly criticised Australia, but did so almost certainly knowing that it would not affect her working relationship with Morrison.
It is not dissimilar to the professional relationship that Labour's Helen Clark had with John Howard in a relatively stable period for Australia at the turn of the century.
So who is Ardern's Aussie cobber?
Morrison's critics call him "Scotty from marketing". It a joke term first used in 2018 when Morrison became Prime Minister in a failed coup against sitting PM Malcolm Turnbull by Peter Dutton.
A satirical article in the Betoota Advocate depicted Morrison, Big Scotty from marketing, as a lower-order cricket batsman called to the crease as the night watchman.
It's no longer a joke. Nine months later, Morrison performed a miracle by winning the supposedly unwinnable election in 2019.
He accomplished this by marketing himself as himself, a bloke from the southern suburbs of Sydney, a doting father to two girls dispensing corny dad jokes, and a devotee of the Cronulla Sharks in the NRL. It's authentic, at least if it is not, he does an excellent job of pretending to be the fairly ordinary bloke, Scomo.
As a former Coalition Treasurer, he also had a clear advantage of being trusted with the economy. He described it as a victory for the "quiet Australians", reminiscent of the "forgotten people" remembered by the longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies.
Curtin describes his appeal to everyday, apolitical Australians as like a conservative version of former unionist and Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
"A man of the people, able to talk across a different community groups."
Morrison was not a policy wonk but he had an appeal that conveyed he was a regular guy, who liked the footie, ate sausages – "all these things that are non-elitist".
"There is an anti-elitist dimension to politics in Australia ... Morrison has that in spades – that appearance of being able to be just an everyday guy who gets things done."
After the unexpected election victory in 2019, Morrison may have thought he and the family deserved a break in Hawaii that summer but coinciding as it did with raging bushfires, his approval rating as Prime Minister slumped from 48 per cent to 38 per cent in the long-running Newspoll survey.
Covid-19 arrived soon afterwards and, after 15 months, his approval rating as preferred PM stands at 55 per cent.
Morrison has brought a period of political stability and an imperative that Australia be taken seriously again following years of ridicule as the Italians of the South Pacific.
If Morrison lasts as leader until the next election he will be the first Australian Prime Minister to have survived a full term since John Howard finished up in 2007 and is on course to become Australia's fourth longest serving Prime Minister.
Morrison does most things with gusto - and success. In Wellington, he oversaw the "100% Pure New Zealand" tourism campaign and when leading Australia's tourism agency a few years later oversaw the unforgettable campaign slogan, "So where the bloody hell are you?"
After his stint in Wellington, he became state director of the New South Wales Liberal Party, where he honed his skills as a hard-nosed political operative and campaigner before being elected to Parliament in 2007.
Those who know Morrison say he doesn't have a big ego, he has a good temperament for politics, he is profoundly pragmatic, not ideological, he is focused on solving problems and he is as tough as titanium.
After years of infighting in the Liberal caucus, Morrison appears to have unified the party for now.
He recently managed a Cabinet reshuffle after a series of damaging stories related to sexual misconduct.
His former Attorney-General, Christian Porter, revealed himself as the politician accused of having raped a girl in 1988 when he was aged 17. His former Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds, faced severe criticism for mishandling a complaint by former staffer Brittany Higgins that she had been raped in 2019 by a male colleague in her office.
Both lost their big portfolios because of the political damage they were doing but remain in Cabinet in lesser posts.
Morrison is loathed by many of his opponents. He opposed gay marriage during the debate in 2017 but now that it is law, says he supports the law.
As Immigration Minister, he implemented the hardline policy of stopping boats of asylum seekers and putting them in offshore processing centres such as Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The boats stopped and the drownings stopped and Morrison is immensely proud of that.
This week he was criticised by the Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, a 26-year-old rape survivor, over what he said to her just after her acclaimed acceptance speech at the award ceremony in January. He leant over and apparently said: "Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out."
Although that comes across as someone trying to express a sentiment of support in a clumsy way.
This week a report was released into what his office knew about the Brittany Higgins case.
The cumulative impact of the sexual impact cases on the women's vote remains to be seen but it is clearly something Morrison is mindful of.
As Curtin wrote recently in an article for the Conversation, Morrison's Budget earlier this month was accompanied by an 81-page Women's Budget Statement and new spending initiatives focused on women's economic security, safety and health and wellbeing.
Morrison is an enigma. He is one of the toughest operators in one of the toughest jobs but he is a devout member of the Pentecostal Horizon Church, the first Pentecostal PM in Australia.
A video of a recent private speech he gave to a Christian conference, released by the Rationalist Society, revealed how he practises the laying-on of hands and praying while comforting people at places like evacuations centres.
He makes an apparent reference to the Devil, saying social media had its virtues and could connect people in ways like never before "but those weapons can also be used by the evil one and we need to call that out".
The left is highly sceptical of his religiosity and there is ongoing debate in Australia about the extent to which it could be used by Labor at the next election. But Curtin said that would be a big risk.
"Labor will need to be really careful about playing that card."
The religious makeup of Australia was stronger than New Zealand, including a strong Catholic element - 52 per cent Christian at the last census including 23 per cent Catholic.
Going after Morrison for his religion could be seen as an attack on Christian values.
"There is a risk if you were to go after him for being a religious person, because there is a strong religious minority," Curtin said.
The next election is due in 2022 but it is not unusual in Australian politics for Prime Ministers to call early elections if they think it is to their advantage and many pundits are picking an election this year.
The rating of Labor leader Anthony Albanese is only 30 per cent in Newspoll and even though Labour is slightly ahead in the two-party preferred vote, 51 per cent to the Coalition's 49 per cent, Morrison is favoured to win.
Although it is certain to be an election around the management of Covid-19, Morrison has also signalled he is willing to campaign against the identity politics often associated with Labor, and so-called cancel culture in which people are pilloried on social media and boycotted for perceived wrongs.
Last month Morrison gave a speech in which he said "we must protect against the forces who would undermine community and I don't just mean the social and moral corrosion caused by the misuses of social media and the abuse that occurs there".
That also included the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics.
"You are more than things others try to identify you by in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, your sexuality, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, your language groups your age."
Whether it's an early election or held next year, Morrison will be itching for a fight, and be making waves, if not history.