Think of it like the rugby league, or the soccer, or the Merchant Services Guild. Actually I'm not at all sure about the Merchant Services Guild but let's not get hung up on that.

The point is that New Zealand is only little, so sometimes it makes sense for us to parachute in and play in our neighbour's bigger, brasher, insect-infested backyard.

In the wake of the all-conquering Warriors and the mighty Phoenix, it was the turn this week of politics to attach itself like a limpet to our friends across the Tasman.

And already New Zealand politics is climbing fearlessly up to the premiership.


With our election monster having claimed a handful of resignations, it sought a foreign scalp, in the form of the deputy Australian PM. If not a direct result of our campaign, certainly another shock plot twist.

Once again, plucky New Zealand punches above its weight.

The poor beleaguered soul in question is one Barnaby Joyce.

The world knows him mostly as that guy who got into a feud with Johnny Depp's dogs.

But Australians know him as a true-blue Aussie. Born in Tamworth, his blood runs yellow and green. His heart beats to the rhythm of Aussie-Aussie-Aussie-oi-oi-oi.

He appears very much forged from the same mould as Dennis Denuto, the heroic lawyer in the excellent Australian documentary film The Castle.

And yet, it turns out that because his father was born in Dunedin, Joyce is and always has been a New Zealand citizen.

Which probably means, as a clutch of his political cobbers have discovered to their horror in recent times, he's ineligible to be elected to federal office. It's the constitution.


Needless to say, this is terrible for Joyce and his government. That it leaves the coalition, which commands but a one-seat majority, dangling from the precipice is bad enough.

Even worse than the prospect of a government collapse, however, is all the merciless piss-taking. He can hardly complain, however. There was something suspiciously New Zealand about his reaction. Yeah, nah, yeah.

And as leading constitutional lawyer Graeme Edgeler observed in the week's most perspicacious analysis, there was an unmistakable clue: Barnaby Joyce sounds like he's walked straight out of a Lynley Dodd book.

Barnaby Joyce, as choice as a moyce, was trotting as far as he could from Donaldson's Dairy, however, and moved swiftly to both renounce his newly discovered citizenship and plea to the courts to leave him be. Watching from a distance, his argument was clear: it's the vibe of the thing.

The episode has produced a number of small miracles along the way. New Zealand enjoying the unfamiliar satisfaction of being described as "a foreign power".

The scientific likelihood that this proves God supports marriage equality.

And the unthinkable feat of making Chris Hipkins seem interesting.

Hipkins, a frontbench Labour MP, is part of the reason that the contretemps has seeped into the New Zealand election.

It transpired that he had asked parliamentary questions about the criteria for New Zealand citizenship, after chatting with an Australian Labor Party staffer.

While this was not apparently material to the Department of Internal Affairs announcing that Joycey is a Kiwi - it was an Australian journalist's queries that did that - it incurred the fury of Julie Bishop.

The Australian foreign minister, incensed at this apparent interference by the rogue state of New Zealand in their domestic politics, said she would struggle to build good relations with Labour, should Ardern's party win the election.

To summarise: Under the shade of a Coolibah tree, Bishop raged as she watched, and waited till her blood had boiled; you'll not come a-waltzing Jacinda with me.

In doing so, however, hadn't Bishop done something worse than whatever she was admonishing? She was now interfering in a foreign election.

Ardern won praise from some for her composed response, chiding Hipkins while evincing a certain puzzlement - streuth-adjacent, maybe - at the Australian froth.

Others, including me, were appalled by her response. A stronger Labour leader would have fought back harder.

David Cunliffe, for example, would almost certainly have stripped to loincloth and taiaha, leapt on his paddle-board and led the invasion. Soon we would learn that Joyce had always been a New Zealand sleeper agent. Shock and Awe, meet Ocker and E hoa.

After a year or two of bloodshed, Peter Dunne would become King of Aotearostralia.

But I lose myself. It's just that we don't get that many international relations scandals around here, so I'll take what I can get, even if it's essentially a mundane episode of DNA Detectives masquerading as a diplomatic crisis.

Chippy Hipkins posing written questions in parliament is kompromat, NZ edition; the best approximation we can achieve of Moscow hotel piss-tape scuttlebutt. Straight to the pool room.

Forget all that, though, Barnaby. Listen, bro. The truth of the matter is that everybody needs good neighbours. With a little understanding, you can find the perfect blend. Scrap that citizenship revocation.

Or if it's too late, just get some good lawyers and call yourself a billionaire philanthropist entrepreneur who will promote New Zealand around the world and we'll fix you with another one.

Return to Dunedin, your surprise turangawaewae, birthplace of your father, James. We'll throw a bloomsday parade. Plenty of jobs going, mate. Fruit picker. Co-leader of the Green Party. Do you know how to run a boot camp?