Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was disappointed Cabinet was meeting today at the same time the first Transtasman flight landed in Wellington, as she would have loved to have been a bystander watching people reunite at the airport.
During her post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, Ardern described the bubble with Australia as an “important milestone” in New Zealand’s economic recovery.
“It is truly exciting,” she added.
The Prime Minister added that the bubble is a world first and everyone should take a moment to be “very, very proud” of what she said was “a team effort” to get to this point.
Ardern will attend a Transtasman bubble celebration at Wellington Airport later today but said she wished she’d been able to witness the first quarantine-free international arrivals in more than a year.
“I would have loved to have been a bystander, seeing those families being reunited for the first time,” she said.
“A scene from Love Actually is how I’d anticipate it would look and it would feel.”
The Prime Minister said there will be further announcements regarding spaces in MIQ freed up by the bubble with Australia.
There are no plans for further bubbles in the near future – except for the bubble with the Cook Islands in May.
“What’s really important to us is that we maintain our status,” she said, referring to New Zealand’s Covid-free status which allows Kiwis free movement and gatherings without restrictions within the country.
Ardern also revealed she has a few family and friends in Australia who she is really looking forward to seeing now that the countries have a combined bubble.
Australian Foreign Minister to visit NZ
Moments before Ardern was scheduled to take to the post-Cabinet press conference podium, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced that Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne will visit New Zealand.
It’s the first face-to-face Foreign Ministers’ consultations since the pandemic began, she said.
Payne’s delegation will be in New Zealand from April 21-23.
“Australia is New Zealand’s closest and most important international partner,” Mahuta said.
Payne’s visit symbolised the “success of our respective Covid-19 strategies as we take our first step to reconnect with the world”.
Ardern said it was “significant” that Payne was coming to New Zealand.
Asked about when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison would come to New Zealand, she said he would be coming in the “not too distant future”.
Her plans would be to take him “down south” to locations that had been hit by the border closure. She would not, however, say where exactly this was.
The first travel bubble passengers touched down this afternoon and were greeted with songs and dancing at airports.
Many of those arriving are family members who haven’t seen their loved ones in more than a year.
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