Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a stern message for her Australian counterpart during a joint press conference in Sydney: "Do not deport your people and your problems."
The Prime Minister said Australia is "well within its rights to deport individuals who break your laws" and that New Zealand "does the same".
But she said New Zealand has a simple request for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison: "Send back kiwis, genuine kiwis - do not deport your people, and your problems."
Ardern foreshadowed "gnarly" issues to discuss with the Australian Prime Minister ahead of their bilateral, after signalling she would bring up the issue of Kiwi criminals being sent back to New Zealand often with no connection to the country.
Morrison said during the press conference that Australia still has no intention of changing the policy, despite discussing it with Ardern.
"We can't have two classes of citizens in Australia... anyone else who doesn't hold the title of citizen in Australia does not get a special deal."
Morrison said, "It is true that we have deported non-citizens to countries all around the world, particularly to the United Kingdom as well, and those deportations have involved people who only came to Australia when they were one or two years old."
But he said the policy is "not directed to any one country or any one nationality whatsoever. It is a statement of Australia's immigration and border laws that if people that are not citizens commit crimes in Australia, then they have violated the terms of being in this country."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said during the joint press conference that she had heard countless cases of individuals "who, on any common sense test, identify as Australians".
She added, "Just a few weeks ago I met a women who moved to Australia not much older than 1 year old. She told me that she had no connection to our country, but she had three children in Australia.
"She was in a crisis centre, having returned to a country she did not feel was her own.
"I have heard from those who work in our judiciary that they are seeing cases before our courts of individuals who are failing attempts to reintegrate and rehabilitate because the success of these programs is reliant on at least some network. These deportees have none."
Ardern said she is "not asking that Australia stops this policy".
But she said Australia deported more than 2000 individuals, and amongst them "will be genuine kiwis who do have to learn the consequences of their actions".
"They were too young to become patched gang members. Too young to be organised criminals. We will own our people. We ask that Australia stop exporting theirs."
Ardern said New Zealand will continue to maintain rights for Australians in New Zealand.
"We do not wish to have a race to the bottom and we remain confident that by continuing to work together, we will find solutions that reaffirm just how important this relationship is to us."
The leaders thanked each other ahead of bilateral talks for maintaining a close relationship and aiding each other in recent times of peril, such as the Whakari/White Island tragedy and Australia's bushfire crisis.
But Ardern said during their press conference that "simple rights" like assistance from Australia's national disability insurance scheme "have been eroded" for kiwis in Australia, despite them paying into the scheme's levy.
She said kiwis are also unable to join the defence force, or become a federal civil servant.
"Kiwis want to contribute to the place that is now their home. But they're not being given the potential to do that to the fullest."