New Zealand PM says friendship with Australia can not be taken for granted

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Australia's deportation of criminals with nearly no connection to New Zealand isn't "fair dinkum" and Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she won't let the issue go.

"We have seen cases where there is also nearly no connection of an individual to New Zealand who have been deported", she said.

"New Zealanders look at this policy and think "that's not fair dinkum", she told reporters of the Australian deportation process.

Since the government toughened its approach, more than 1500 New Zealanders have been sent back.

With Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne sticking by Australia's policy during a recent visit to New Zealand, it's safe to expect little change any time soon.

"But where we have Australian citizens who are falling victim in certain circumstances where people are sexually offending against children for example, we have had a big push to try to deport those paedophiles and people who have committed those crimes".

Ms Ardern was meant to fly back to New Zealand tonight, but issues with the aircraft have kept it grounded.

"Last time I saw Jacinda was under the most hard of circumstances when we were in Christchurch for the memorial service which was a heart-wrenching exercise", the Australian leader told reporters. "We don't want to see this to be a partisan debate", he told Today.

She said she would continue to do so, "regardless of whether or not I see any positive moves on Australia's side".

But she said she was saddened at how surprised some were at her response.

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"I have also met with a group of investors over lunch and will be holding a business breakfast tomorrow", Ms Ardern added.

"You are helping New Zealand to thrive", she said.

She also met with the governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AC, as well as business leaders, as part of a bid to bring more investment to New Zealand.

Leaving the meeting, Mr Morrison did not answer a question on the deportation issue.

Ardern was quick to brush off any suggestion the topic would overshadow her visit, saying it would "not necessarily" come up in her meeting with Morrison and had not been raised in her conversations with investors.

Ardern and Gayford in Melbourne.

"We can't take our friendship for granted".

Nowhere on her trip was this more on display than when she delivered the keynote speech at Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

The issue has become a long-term irritant in the normally cordial relationship, attracting strong criticism from both the conservative administration of former prime minister John Key and Ms Ardern's progressive government.

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