Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a “constructive” call last night about a woman, accused of being an ISIS sympathiser, detained at the Turkish border.
It comes as Ardern came out swinging against Australia yesterday. She said the nation “abdicated its responsibilities” by stripping the woman of Australian citizenship.
The woman is also a New Zealand citizen, but had not lived in the country since the age of six. It essentially means responsibility now only lays in the hands of New Zealand, despite Ardern previously asking Australia to work together over the woman's status.
Morrison defended Australia’s actions yesterday, saying his job was " to put Australia's national security interests first ".
A spokesperson said Ardern and Morrison agreed last night they would “work through those issues in the spirit of our relationship”.
“The call was constructive. Regardless of the steps taken in this case to date, both NZ and Australia acknowledge that this case now has a number of complexities.”
Australian broadcaster ABC reports the woman is Suhayra Aden, who travelled to Syria on an Australian passport " several years ago to live under Islamic State ".
ABC reports that in Syria, Suhayra met and married a Swedish man to whom she had two children with. Both men later died. Another of her children died while in Syria.
Suhayra was detained with her two surviving children, aged two and five.
Yesterday, the Turkish Ministry of Defence tweeted that three New Zealand nationals tried to "enter our country illegally from Syria".
Ardern said New Zealand raised its concerns with Australia "around resolving if in the eventuality in their detention, or potential return, for whom the responsibility for those individuals should reside".
"Our very strong view on behalf of New Zealand and New Zealanders was that this individual was clearly most appropriately dealt with by Australia,” she said yesterday.
"That is where their family reside, that is where their links reside and that is where the place from which they departed for Syria."
She added: "We will be engaging with the Turkish authorities, and given there are children involved, their welfare will be top of mind in our response."
Appearing on Breakfast today, Opposition leader Judith Collins took a similar stance — expressing disappointment at Australia but recognising that, because children are involved, New Zealand cannot abdicate its responsibility.