Boris Johnson enjoyed a traditional haka performance in the Downing Street garden when he welcomed his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern.
The prime minister was back at his official London residence after an eight-day series of foreign engagements in Rwanda, Germany and Spain – and facing renewed political pressure over the resignation of deputy chief whip Chris Pincher amid groping allegations.
But he had a chance to step away from the domestic turmoil when he met Ms Ardern, telling her it was a “great, great pleasure” to welcome her.
Mr Johnson looked relaxed as he and his fellow prime minister – who, like him recently attended the NATO summit in Madrid – watched a Maori dance in the No 10 garden.
The PM smiled and applauded the haka, staged by performers in traditional costumes – and was pictured being given face-to-face greetings with them.
It was Ms Ardern’s first visit to the UK since the COVID-19 pandemic – and since the two countries signed a free trade deal in February, though that has yet to be ratified.
New Zealand only recently reopened its borders to international visitors after two years of a strict border policy amid the global pandemic.
Ms Ardern said her visit to the UK and Europe was an “incredibly important milestone for us in New Zealand” and signified “we are open for business, for trade, for tourism”.
The two leaders share common ground on Ukraine, and Mr Johnson praised New Zealand’s “very strong line”.
They also signed a deal giving more opportunities to younger people to travel between the UK and New Zealand to live and work.
The agreement will extend the Youth Mobility and Working Holiday schemes.
It raises the maximum age limit for applicants from 30 to 35, and increases the maximum length of time people can stay in the host country to three years.