Jacinda Ardern is travelling to Australia this week, and will become the first head of government to meet with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Australian soil.

The New Zealand and Australian leaders will meet informally in Sydney on Thursday night and hold bilateral talks on Friday.

“She’s been a friend of mine for some time,” Mr Albanese said.

“And we’re good friends, Australia and New Zealand. We can do much better in terms of cooperation and build stronger relations.”

Ms Ardern echoed Mr Albanese’s sentiment, describing the trans-Tasman relationship as “like family”.

The meeting brings the leaders together with centre-left governments in power on both sides of the Tasman Sea for just the second year in the past 32.

The pair have met previously, informally through Labor-Labour networks and formally in offshoot meetings alongside Ms Ardern’s engagements with former prime minister Scott Morrison.

Showing the warmth of the relationship, the pair spoke on election night as Mr Albanese made his way to give his victory speech.

The Trans-Tasman relationship was on the brink of souring in 2020 when Ms Ardern, on her last visit to Sydney, confronted Mr Morrison over Australia’s policy of deporting Kiwis who do not have family or community ties in NZ.

“Do not deport your people and your problems,” Ms Ardern told Mr Morrison, in a moment of forcefulness from the New Zealand leader.

That issue remains a major bugbear in New Zealand, where authorities believe deportees contribute to gang-related crime.

“That issue is one that we are looking forward to conversations on,” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told AAP.

“We don’t think the policy is fair or just and we are going to be seeking for the new government to make changes.

“There have been comments on the public record by Anthony Albanese that indicate he is prepared to at least look at it again.”

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Ardern said “we do want to see if we can make progress on some of those really difficult examples”.

The Pacific is also firmly on the agenda given China’s emboldened diplomacy in the region over the past few months.

Like Mr Morrison’s government, Ms Ardern’s administration stands accused of lapsed engagement in the region, and the two nations could seek a united position ahead of Pacific Islands Forum meetings next month.

Beyond that, the depth of the relationship means the potential agenda is vast.

“I expect on the agenda will be developments in our region like climate change, the Indo Pacific Economic Framework, AUKUS, and the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum,” Ms Ardern said.

The meeting will also give Mr Albanese a chance to rub shoulders with the woman who regularly tops polls of Australians’ favourite world leader.

Ms Ardern’s brand of consensus-seeking ‘kindness’ politics appears a neat fit with Australia’s rejection of business-as-usual dealings at the federal election.

Mr Robertson said that did not mean the time was right for New Zealand to seek leverage over its bigger sibling.

“I don’t think it quite works like that. The relationship between New Zealand and Australia is the important thing here,” he said.

“You’ve got to deal with the issues and manage and develop the relationships regardless of who might be in office or who might be popular in a given poll.”

Mr Robertson – who will also travel to Sydney this week for separate talks with Treasurer Jim Chalmers – predicted Mr Albanese “will make a very good prime minister”.

“He’s a very experienced politician,” he said. 

“He’s somebody who’s got a deep set of values … and he’s clearly motivated to make some changes in Australia.”