The Morrison government's desire to block resettled refugees from ever setting foot in Australia stands as the major stumbling point from New Zealand taking 150 people currently caught in offshore detention.
While New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern insists that's "a matter for Australia", her deputy Winston Peters is "not going to sacrifice" hard-won equality for Kiwis.
The contradiction from the two leaders at the heart of New Zealand's government comes as they wait to learn whether Australia will pick up the long-mooted offer.
The resettlement deal for refugees in Papua New Guinea and Nauru was first struck by then-prime ministers Julia Gillard and John Key in 2013, but never utilised.
The circuit-breaker to the refugees' indefinite detention appears part of a deal struck with Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie for her support to repeal medevac laws.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denied the deal but is leaving the door open for Kiwi resettlement at long last.
Peters, who earlier said New Zealand was "working through" a deal with Australia, later said there had been no formal contact, echoing his Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
In the murkiness, one thing is clear; neither Ardern nor her deputy will use the issue to seek a quid pro quo from Australia.
Ardern says she doesn't want anything in return to take 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention regime.
In an interview with Sky News on Thursday, Ardern said the "ball is obviously in Australia's court" on the offer, making clear it was a genuine humanitarian offer without strings attached.
"That's just not the way New Zealand and Australia work," she said of a possible quid pro quo.
"We have a good, robust, strong relationship. The closest you'll find of any two nations in the world."
Peters agreed, adding "It would be inappropriate surely to use the miserable circumstances of people to negotiate something else".
"It would show us to be a country that acts in bad faith and we're not one of those countries."
The NZ First leader and foreign minister parted from Ardern when he warned would-be deal-makers not to "get ahead of ourselves" should Canberra seek to block the refugees setting foot on Australian soil.
"You mean having New Zealanders with second class status? That's what the effect would be and so there's a whole lot of work we'd have to engage in," Peters said.
"We made the offer to them but the acceptance of the offer is something we're working our way through at the present time so we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves.
"We're a country that prizes ourselves on treating people fairly and equally. That's everybody.
"And so, when a citizen comes to this country they get the full defence of the law, and equal treatment. We're not going to sacrifice that overnight."
Ardern said desires to block refugees from crossing Australian borders wouldn't be a deal-breaker.
"Of course we would want to maintain as much consistency as we're able to in the treatment of New Zealand citizens but it is a domestic issue," she said.
Australian Associated Press