The New Zealand-Australia relationship is not always understood by outsiders, says New Zealand ambassador to the United States Mike Moore.

"We use abuse as a sign of friendship. You don't abuse someone you don't feel close to,'' he said.

"I wouldn't call a European a good bastard.''

He made his comments at a ceremony in Washington DC this where he was presented with an honorary medal of the Order of Australia.

Advertisement

The investiture ceremony was presided over by Australian ambassador Kim Beazley, a former Labour leader and friend of Mr Moore's.

Mr Moore was briefly New Zealand Prime Minister in 1990 and is a former Director General of the World Trade Organisation, about which he related another yarn.

"When I was Director General of the World Trade Organisation and in Geneva the call finally came through from an Aussie Minister who had just won an election, the
kids over board election.

"I took the call and told the minister he should be in jail not in cabinet and it was criminal the way he stole the election but I guessed I would have to put up with him.

"He made some sheep jokes and I hung up. European staff in the office were ashen.'I
thought you like him,' they said.'I do, he is my mate,' I replied.''

He said not a lot of people knew that the first Labour Prime Minister of Australia was a bloke called Watson, from Oamaru and the first Labour Prime Minister of New Zealand was an Australian, Michael Joseph Savage.

Mr Moore said he could not think of any two countries that had more in common than Australia and New Zealand.

"It's more than our mutual brutal experience in the fire and blood of Gallipoli.

Advertisement

"It began, when our nations were colonised. We were governed from New South Wales for some time.

"Every now and again I think we should just get it over with and make Australia a state of New Zealand.''

Mr Moore is a member of the Order of New Zealand, New Zealand's highest honour.

His other honours include the New Zealand Commemoration Medal 1990; Commander of the Order of the Equatorial Star, Gabon; National Order of Cote d'Ivoire, Ivory Coast; Order of the Golden Heart, Kenya; Order of Duke Branimir with Ribbon, Croatia; National Honour of Georgia, Georgia; Medal of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Uruguay; Pope John Paul II Annual Medal, The Holy See.