Judith Collins, Winston Peters head to Australia for meeting with foreign, defence counterparts 

Winston Peters and Judith Collins are right now on the way to Melbourne for the first meeting between both the Foreign and Defence Ministers of New Zealand and Australia.   

It's an unlikely pairing on their way to meet with their Aussie counterparts Penny Wong and Richard Marles. They'll all be in the same room at the same time.    

"I understand today... that this is the first time New Zealand has done this with Australia," said Collins.    

It's not quite the very first. The maiden meeting in the 2+2 format was the Finance and Climate Ministers' summit last year.   

But Peters and Collins' Melbourne mission is the first time it's happened for foreign affairs and defence. 

"A lot of things didn't happen in the last three years and now things are getting back on the mainstream so to speak," said Peters.    

"There's a lot of engagements. We've got a lot of ground to make up and real fast."   

It looks like Collins and Peters themselves have made up. They've not previously been so friendly.   

"He would be the last person in the world I would ever want to do approachments with," said Collins in 2014.   

Asked if the pair had buried the hatchet, Collins said: "Well not in each other, no.  

"We actually get along very well and we have a common interest for New Zealand, and we're really working hard for that."   

Together they've got new challenges; tightening New Zealand's defence ties with our only ally, Australia, and the US, UK and Canberra's nuclear submarine pact AUKUS. There's a lower level - pillar 2, as it's called - which is more focussed on intelligence and tech.   

"It's very important that we are at least open to listening to what they have to say and whether or not we can be part of that," Collins said.  

The prospect of a 2+2 meeting was raised during the Labour-led Government but the meeting - set to be while then-Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was in China - fell through. The new Coalition has made the get together a top priority in its eagerness to strengthen ties to Aotearoa's traditional western allies in an increasingly complex world.