Aus v NZ: how they line up in the trans-Tasman tussle

The great New Zealand band Crowded House, including an Australian and two Americans, play the Sydney Opera House. (Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The diplomatic incident sparked by the Australian deputy PM’s dual citizenship is the latest bout in a (mostly) friendly rivalry. So whose side are you on?

The current rift/tiff between the Australian government and the New Zealand opposition Labour party has been fierce, fiery and memorable. But whether it will be significant depends if Jacinda Ardern becomes New Zealand’s next prime minister and the issue of “trust” with the Australian government is tested.

Despite frequent references by leaders on both sides of the Tasman to the countries “special relationship” and close “family” ties, there has been growing tension between Australia and New Zealand in recent years, with New Zealand advocates saying New Zealanders in Australia are treated as second-class citizens.

On Wednesday New Zealand TV host Jesse Mulligan called Australia a “bully” and said it treated New Zealand like dirt; a sentiment that has been quietly growing in New Zealand as Australia has dispatched dozens of New Zealanders to the notorious Christmas Island detention centre, made the route to citizenship longer and more expensive, and given Kiwis in Australia no access to welfare benefits or disaster assistance.

“The broader policy environment is not a very positive one, there have been some tensions for a while but it has escalated under the Abbott and Turnbull government,” says Jennifer Curtin, an associate professor at Auckland University, who has also taught politics and policy at Monash and the University of Canberra.

“Australians don’t really care if there is a lot of Kiwi bashing that goes on, we’ve seen it happen before, Paul Keating did it in 1994. He was quite ambivalent about New Zealanders in Australia.”

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand Labour leader. Popular with children, not so much with Julie Bishop. (Photograph: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

A decade before that there was a period of mistrust by New Zealand towards Australia over the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, says Curtin, with some New Zealanders unsure how “forthcoming” Australia was with intelligence sharing before and after the event.

Australia’s 89-year ban on the importation of New Zealand apples, which was eventually overturned by the World Trade Organisation in 2010, was also a decades-long quarrel.

Despite constant assertions from both sides that the two countries couldn’t be closer, over the past few years tensions have become more deeply-felt by New Zealanders, said Curtin, who believes many secretly applauded Ardern standing up to Julie Bishop this week. Something New Zealand leaders – even opposition leaders – rarely do.

“The thing is we are always the small, the less important of the two in the relationship” says Curtin. “We need them more than they need us.”

On Saturday, the All Blacks take on the Wallabies in the opening match of the Bledisloe Cup, a game guaranteed to be spicy after the recent war of words. (The sporting rivalry is a whole different kettle of Tasman sea fish, expressed most vividly in the infamous Trevor Chappell Underarm Bowling Incident of 1981.)

Here the Guardian looks back on some other niggles between these South-Pacific “cousins”.


Pavlova. Australian. Or New Zealander. Or more likely German. (Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian)

A long-standing sore point. Who really invented the pavlova, that delicious Christmas dessert of meringue base, fresh fruit and whipped cream? Both countries claim the treat, tussling and sniping across the Tasman at each other come Christmas.

Professor Emeritus Helen Leach of Otago University was so intrigued by the topic she wrote an entire book on the subject: The Pavlova Wars: How a Creationist Model of Recipe Origins Led to an International Dispute. Leach said Kiwis could claim the whipped goodness; stating the first true pavlova recipe was derived from a Pavlova Cake from New Zealand in 1929.

But, true to form in this occasionally unhealthy love/hate relationship, two years ago New Zealander Dr Andrew Paul Wood and Australian Annabelle Utrecht threw a sugar bomb into the debate, saying their research had concluded the pavlova belonged to neither Australia or New Zealand but began life as a German torte.

“The idea that it was invented in New Zealand or even Australia is a total fiction,” Wood told the good food website. “As is the notion that the first pavlova desserts are of Antipodean origin”

Let’s allow the Oxford English Dictionary the last word. In 2010 they updated their definition for pavlova in the online edition and ruled according to written evidence, the dessert was invented by New Zealand.

The flat white

This is a hot one. The iconic coffee has become popular around the world for its lack of frothy foam and strong hit of caffeine (usually a double-shot in Australia and New Zealand). But its history is sorely contested, with Australian Alan Preston claiming he invented it in 1985 in Sydney, and former Kiwi barista Fraser McInnes saying he did in Wellington in 1989, when he joked a cappucino whose milk had failed to rise was a “flat white”.

So where does the truth lie? Coffee historians remain divided but Starbucks, who have appropriated the drink for customers around the globe, claim it as a “uniquely Australian coffee” on their website. We’re calling a truce on this one, and declaring the flat white Antipodean.

Crowded House

The band played their 1996 farewell concerts in Melbourne and Sydney, and also formed in Melbourne in 1985, giving Australia a pretty good stake to claim them as thir own. Two of its original members were Australian, Paul Hester – who died in 2005, and Nick Seymour. On the other hand leader, singer and main songwriter is New Zealander Neil Finn and his brother Tim was a member of the band for a short while and co-wrote some of their most famous songs. And two of the current members are American – but let’s not complicate things now.

Tourism New Zealand have used Don’t Dream its Over in their promotional adds over the years, and Air New Zealand have the band’s iconic album Recurring Dream permanently available on their inflight entertainment system. There’s even a New Zealand Crowded House Pinot Noir from Marlborough, which you could drink while listening to Four Seasons in One Day, which was filmed in New Zealand. (Australia rarely has four distinct seasons).

And if that wasn’t enough, Queen Elizabeth awarded Tim and Neil Finn OBEs in 1993 for their contribution to the music of … New Zealand.

The Gladiator and the country star

Russell Crowe: can kill gladiators at will. Can’t become Australian. (Photograph: Everett/REX/Shutterstock)

AKA Russell Crowe and Keith Urban. For two celebrities who have gone on the record countless times regarding this furore, the tussle over which country claims Oscar-winner Russell Crowe and country music legend Keith Urban should have been (amicably) settled long ago.

For the record, Crowe was born in New Zealand, but emigrated with his family to Australia in 1968, aged four. In this 2015 Guardian article, Crowe says he has twice applied for Australian citizenship and been denied.

“No matter how long you’d been in the country, if you weren’t in Australia for the majority of 2000 to 2002 – when I was particularly busy filming overseas – you can’t become a citizen,” Crowe told Radio Times.

Crowe has repeatedly stated he loves Australia and considers it home. But he still travels on a New Zealand passport so … like Barnaby Joyce, no matter how strong the accent – Crowe remains a Kiwi.

Urban was indisputably born in Whangarei, New Zealand. Urban moved to Australia aged two, but has returned to New Zealand on numerous occasions. Last year he offered free tickets to his show to the first responders who assisted in the recovery of the Kaikoura Quake. On hearing New Zealanders claimed him as their own, Urban told Fairfax Media “I’ll take that.”

Settled then, bro.

Full disclosure: Eleanor Ainge Roy is a dual Australia-New Zealand citizen, who was born in Sydney and lives in Dunedin

[Read the Guardian article].

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