Last week, during the protracted and ultimately fruitless six-day effort to rescue 29 men trapped in the Pike River coal mine, New Zealand media and politicians made a rare show of unity to castigate visiting Australian journalists.

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To use the Antipodean vernacular, New Zealand and Australia are great mates. Occupying the same quiet corner of the globe, the neighbours share a similar history; cultures which venerate the egalitarian; accents so alike they are routinely mistaken for each other.

But during recent crises in New Zealand, the relationship has assumed a distinct edge, with Australians criticised as meddling, unwelcome interlopers.

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