Australian TV host smitten with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's 'extended family' remarks

An Australian TV host seemed smitten with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's description of our cousins across the Tasman ditch as "extended family". 

Ardern appeared on Australia's Sunrise breakfast TV show on Wednesday morning after New Zealand's international border opened to Australians for the first time since the short-lived trans-Tasman bubble in mid-2021. 

Ardern described herself to Sunrise host David Koch as "extraordinarily excited" about the estimated 4000 Australians arriving in New Zealand on Wednesday, "so much so that I've donned my green for you this morning".

"I can't actually remember or imagine a time when we would have been just so excited to be welcoming our Australian family back to our shores. It's very genuine," Ardern said.

"In terms of tourism numbers, you make up about 40 percent of our tourism numbers, about 1.5 million Australians. But over the ski season that bumps up a bit again - historically, you're about 50 percent. 

"But you know, the numbers don't really tell a story. I think for us, you are our extended family. It means a lot to us to be able to welcome you back to your second home, because that's probably how we see ourselves and in many ways that's how we see you. 

"So, it's more than just economic for us. It's a big part of who we are - welcoming people to our shores."

Koch seemed taken aback by Ardern's remarks. 

"Aww, that's nice of you to say that." 

He pointed out that almost 600,000 Kiwis live in Australia.

"So it's not just Aussie tourists, is it? It's Kiwis visiting family and going back and forth."

Ardern reminded Koch that Kiwis in Australia have been able to return to New Zealand quarantine-free since the beginning of March. 

"Our borders have been open for New Zealand citizens and permanent residents to come back and forth for a while. Today is the big day because this is when it's open now for Australian tourists," Ardern said. 

"We know there's particular enthusiasm for our ski season. My advice to anyone who's interested in coming over to New Zealand for a spot of skiing is to book. We've seen quite a bit of enthusiasm for the reason already."

Air New Zealand last week added an extra 96 trans-Tasman flights for April through to June, an increase of approximately 20,000 seats.

"We've also been ramping up capacity for the winter period so Aussies can enjoy our fantastic ski slopes here in New Zealand," said Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty.

The airline has eleven near-full flights arriving from Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Perth on Wednesday. The first touched down at 6am from Perth into Auckland.

Ardern reminded Aussie viewers that only the COVID-19 vaccinated can enter New Zealand. 

"It's very similar to what you're seeing in other parts of the world," she told Sunrise.  

"So, fully vaccinated, in New Zealand we're asking for those two shots, but also we do require pre-departure testing but that could be a rapid antigen test just before you come over. That's similar to what you're seeing in the likes of the United States and so on. 

"I understand some of your airports might be offering that as a way to make it a little more seamless in some places. But I think you'll find on the New Zealand side we're making it as easy as possible for people to come in."

The Government requires tourists in New Zealand to take two rapid antigen tests throughout their stay, which are supplied upon arrival. Tourists must be able to afford isolating for a week if they test positive. 

The tourism industry is fizzing. 

"This is an exciting day for tourism businesses around the motu as they step back onto the front foot, setting their sights on a successful ski season, then summer 2022-23," said Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Rebecca Ingram. 

"The industry is reporting forward bookings are gaining momentum, and there's definitely a more positive feeling about the future and the opportunities to rebuild businesses."