Last updated 08:40, February 26 2018
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Former US president Barack Obama’s first visit to NZ will see him give a speech to business and community leaders and have “some fun”.
Former US president Barack Obama is to visit New Zealand for the first time next month.
Obama will speak to about 1000 invited guests at an event run by the NZ-US Council in Auckland on March 22.
NZ-US Council spokesman Leon Grice said Obama would spend about three days in the country, before going on to Sydney.
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Barack Obama will speak to about 1000 invited guests at an event run by the NZ-US Council in Auckland on March 22.
“It is a private visit but from our discussions we are not anticipating him bringing his family.”
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The NZ-US Council was founded in 2001 and describes itself as an organisation committed to fostering and developing “a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between New Zealand and the United States”.
“I look forward to welcoming Mr Obama to our country and anticipate meeting him once his full programme is finalised,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
It advocates for the expansion of trade and economic links between the two countries and aims to bring about a comprehensive free trade agreement.
Grice said discussions about a visit started in August.
He said Obama’s itinerary would include “having some fun” and he wouldn’t be surprised if the former president squeezed in a round of golf.
“There are lots of things that we have suggested he do, and we expect him to have a ‘full time’ when he is out here.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern welcomed confirmation of the trip.
“I look forward to welcoming Mr Obama to our country and anticipate meeting him once his full programme is finalised,” she said in a statement.
Obama’s speech to the NZ-US Council has been sponsored by Air New Zealand, Westpac and Mastercard.
Grice said the guest list had yet to be confirmed and the council would not be selling tickets.
“The three sponsors have put forward some names and we are making sure it is a full cross-section of New Zealand society from community leaders to youth leaders and businesspeople.”
Air NZ chief executive Christopher Luxon said the airline had wanted to enable a visit since Obama left office and thought it would be an inspiration for the country’s “leaders of today and tomorrow”.
“It goes without saying that President Obama’s presence in New Zealand will be a boost for the profile of our tourism industry globally,” he said.
Westpac NZ chief executive David McLean said Obama’s tenure in the White House brought with it “a spirit of hope and change which resonated with many New Zealanders”.
Grice said Obama was likely to discuss his presidency during his speech to the NZ-US Council and issues such as diversity and youth leadership “which is a really important thing in his post-presidency”.
Obama will speak at an event in Sydney the following day.
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