Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny have been welcomed at a powhiri in Queenstown this afternoon at the Rees Hotel.

It’s the first time he has met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern face to face since February last year.

At the same time, sporting legend Sonny Bill Williams and former Socceroo Craig Foster joined an Amnesty International event at the Queenstown Events Centre, urging Morrison to take up New Zealand’s long-standing offer to resettle 150 refugees held in Australian-run offshore detention centres.

Tonight Morrison and Ardern are attending a business reception at Skyline Queenstown and tomorrow they will have formal talks.

The meeting – without masks and in person while the world continues to be ravaged by Covid-19 – is being portrayed as a celebration of New Zealand’s and Australia’s success in keeping the virus at bay, despite the current lockdown in Melbourne.

This latest scare has already truncated Morrison’s schedule, which was meant to include the Otago Highlanders-Melbourne Rebels game that was moved to Sydney following the Melbourne lockdown.

Morrison, who had been in the Greater Melbourne area recently, and his entourage were required to test negative for the virus before landing in New Zealand.

Tomorrow the leaders are expected to dismiss recent speculation that the transtasman relationship is at its most tense in years, given differences over China and ongoing ructions over how New Zealanders are treated in Australia.

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