Barack Obama’s visit good for New Zealand tourism – Sir John Key

The AM Show 21/03/2018

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key says Barack Obama's arrival in New Zealand will be good for the country.

Mr Obama landed in New Zealand last night, and will speak at an event for the US-NZ Council and major sponsor Air New Zealand on Thursday night. But he's also made time to catch up with his mate, Sir John, for golf.

Sir John told The AM Show that hosting the former US President will lead to tourism benefits.

"He's still one of the most influential people on the planet," he said.

"From a New Zealand-US perspective [this is] really important, and from a tourism perspective the reality is there's 100 million people [who] follow him.

Sir John described Mr Obama as "a really, thoroughly nice down-to-earth guy".

Sir John is expected to challenge his mate on the Tara Iti golf course, rated by Golfer's Digest as the sixth best in the world.

"He is a bit like me, a golf tragic," Sir John told The AM Show, adding they have "pretty similar handicaps".

But he assured Duncan Garner that he hasn’t specifically practiced for Mr Obama’s visit.

Mr Obama's visit will see an extensive media ban.

Then, Mr Obama will return to Auckland on Thursday, to hold a "moderated conversation" with actor Sam Neill.

When asked why Mr Obama’s visit requires a strict media ban, Sir John explained that the former US president wants to respect the current American administration.

“He doesn’t want to be seen to be going around the world, making comments that could be misconstrued.

“Look, bluntly, anything he does could be misconstrued.”

Sir John praised Mr Obama's time in office, including his handling of the Global Financial Crisis and presiding over the capture of Osama bin Laden.

"I think history is going to treat him incredibly kindly," he says.

"I think the Iran deal will prove actually - despite what President Trump says - to be a very, very good deal."

Watch the full interview with Sir John Key above. 

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.