Topher Richwhite, Bridget Thackwray: How New Zealand officials negotiated Kiwi influencers out of Iran

The Government says New Zealand didn't do any sort of reciprocal deal to ensure the safe release of the Kiwi influencers from Iran.

But now the couple is out, Kiwi Iranians are calling for stronger action against the Iranian regime. 

From the streets of Iran, across the globe to Berlin, and right here in New Zealand, there was an uprising for the women of Iran, as they fight for their rights. 

But amongst all the condemnation, one usually loud proud feminist voice has been unusually quiet.

As Green MP Golriz Ghahraman was cutting off her hair in solidarity, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was issuing toned-down statements.

"We called in the Iranian Ambassador here in New Zealand to raise directly our concerns," Ardern previously said on AM.

That's upset Iranian Kiwis Mahsa Marks and Samira Taghavi.

"The New Zealand response so far has been very weak. It has not been clear. It has not been satisfactory," said Taghavi. "As a female-led Government, we expected so much more."

"This is a human rights crisis and we would like to see the New Zealand Government call it what it is," said Marks.

Newshub understands it was deliberate. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern deliberately tempered her criticism of Iran to avoid upsetting the regime and jeopardising the release of the two Kiwi influencers who were there despite a travel warning.

But now they're safe - she’s free to speak.

"Over the past several months, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the New Zealand Government has been working hard to ensure the safe exit of two New Zealanders from Iran," said Ardern.

"It's absolutely horrific to see a set of circumstances where a woman would lose her life as a result of breaking the rules of what essentially are morality police."

Ardern flew to Antarctica on Wednesday morning, leaving her deputy to fill in more details like  where the pair were held, though he couldn't fill in many blanks.

"They were not able to leave Iran. They needed the assistance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials and others to do that," said acting Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

While they may not have been imprisoned - Newshub understands the pair's movements were restricted - they were held in more than one place and could not leave without Government intervention. That could mean they had their passports taken. 

But while Iran often engages in prisoner swaps, our diplomats got them out without one. 

"I can absolutely guarantee you no deal has been done," said Robertson. 

Now two very lucky Kiwis are safe, the Government is safe to go harder on Iran. 

"You cannot just come out and say we are concerned about something and then do nothing about it," said Taghavi.

The expectations from Iranian Kiwis are high.

Jenna Lynch Analysis

In the Beehive, there is a sense of incredulity at the actions of these influencers with one senior minister throwing words like 'stupid' and 'entitled' around. 

It is a major diplomatic coup that the pair got out without a deal. It sounds like the pair's offence was dumb - not a capital crime - and New Zealand officials kept pressing and making assurances that they’d learned their lesson .

The Prime Minister pointed out on Wednesday morning that she was trying to strike a balance by making statements to condemn but carefully because of the plight of these two Kiwis.

Now the influencers are out, the balance can change. Watch this space for further Government action. You will likely see the Government more overtly backing calls for an independent impartial UN-type investigation into what's going on in Iran.