The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, as with those before it, focuses attention on one special relationship. That is the bond encapsulated in the word "Anzac", the union of the soldiers of this country with those of Australia during the ill-fated Turkish campaign. In quick time, common characteristics, not least courage, endurance, ingenuity, irreverence and mateship, were attributed to the men of the two nations. The Anzac spirit was born.

So, as a consequence, as Paul Little explores this week, was an intense rivalry. New Zealanders enjoy nothing more than getting one across their big brother. Usually, the chance for this occurs on the sporting field, but, recently, we have been able to crow about stronger economic growth, lower unemployment, a more stable government and near currency parity.

Australians, for their part, try as far as possible to display indifference. For some, the "NZ" in Anzac is a genuine mystery. Largely, though, this attitude is all for show. Beat them enough at sport and the gloves come off. Only recently, something approaching paranoia ran through Australians as they contemplated the possibility of the Black Caps defeating them to win the Cricket World Cup on their own soil. This, on top of the humiliations inflicted regularly by the All Blacks and the Kiwis in prestigious rugby league tournaments, plus the strong inroads made by the Breakers and the Wellington Phoenix in their domestic competitions, would have been too much to bear.

Such rivalry could, of course, be the product of only an extremely strong tie. For New Zealand, there are additional strands. Even with so many of its exports going to China, Australia remains vitally important as a trading partner. But there are also added benefits for Australia. Where else could it turn to boost its stocks by misappropriating the likes of pavlova and Crowded House?


For that and other reasons, relations have not always been smooth. Points of difference have emerged in international affairs and military engagements. Some Australian leaders have also shown scant interest in cultivating relations. Yet even during the times when we do not particularly like each other, we remain each others' best friends.

This is evident the moment a natural disaster strikes. If Queensland is ravaged by flood or forest fires break out in Victoria, this country is always quick to offer support. Equally, Australian rescue teams were dispatched immediately to earthquake-stricken Christchurch. A century on, the mateship embodied in that first battlefield bond is as strong as ever.