Barack Obama's New Zealand visit could rile Trump supporters

by Patrick O'Meara / 23 February, 2018

Barack Obama's speaking fees are about $400,000 a time. Photo / Getty Images

An announcement on a visit by the former US president is expected next week.

Negotiations to get former US president Barack Obama to visit New Zealand next month are understood to be close to completion.

Air New Zealand and two other unnamed organisations are funding Mr Obama's trip to come and speak here, and an announcement is expected next week.

A senior lecturer at the marketing department at Auckland University, Mike Lee, said he expected there to be a lot of interest, both here and overseas.

"Obama is almost universally popular outside of America. And at least half of Americans find him still a very approachable, trustworthy, (with a) cool sort of persona."

Air New Zealand has been heavily involved in Mr Obama's visit.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Key, who is on the national carrier's board, is likely to have been influential in convincing Mr Obama to come here because of their friendship when the two were leaders.

But he will not come cheap, his speaking fees in the US are reportedly about $400,000 a time.

Brand consultant and former Saatchi New Zealand executive Kate Smith said Mr Obama was worth it for the firms' involved.

"If you look at Twitter for example, Barack Obama has almost twice as many Twitter followers as Trump does, even though he tweets a lot less than Trump."

"If Obama comes here and [tweets] about New Zealand, he's reaching 100 million people."

Ms Smith said it would be even more interesting if his wife Michelle Obama came along, as she was influential in her own right.

Michelle Obama, Bill English and Barack Obama at the APEC summit dinner on 2011. Photo / Kevork Djansezian/Getty/AFP

"The total value of a single public appearance of her wearing, say, a J Crew cardigan ... was estimated at $14 million dollars."

"The value of a Michelle (Obama) coming here wearing a New Zealand designer would be absolutely enormous," she said.

The focus on New Zealand could also spark further interest in the country as a tourist destination.

But Dr Lee warned Air New Zealand risks offending Trump supporters.

"If they invite him over and do all these things with Obama, they're in a way utterly positioning themselves as anti-Trump. So they might annoy people in America that are pro-Trump."

US President Barack Obama and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Photo / AFP

On the other hand, Dr Lee said these people might never travel here anyway, preferring to stay home.

ACT Party leader David Seymour said he hoped to take advantage of Mr Obama's visit to save charter schools from being closed by the government.

He's written to the former president to visit one while here, saying he could help change Labour's mind.

"He's somebody who is from the political left, who's a Democrat. But he was able to look pragmatically at what worked and became somebody who called charter schools "incubators of innovations". Somebody who had a presidential week of celebrations of charter (schools)."

Mr Seymour has not heard back about his invitation.

But one date Mr Obama is likely to keep is a golf match with Sir John.

Both are keen players, and now have a little more time to improve their handicaps.

This article was originally published by RNZ.


Green MP Eugenie Sage accused of ministerial interference
88686 2018-03-23 07:28:31Z Politics

Green MP Eugenie Sage accused of ministerial inter…

by Benedict Collins

A Green Party MP has been accused of ministerial interference and sticking her nose into staff matters at an independent authority.

Read more
The summer the power went out in Auckland
88683 2018-03-23 06:31:22Z History

The summer the power went out in Auckland

by Justin Gregory

Friday, February 20th. 5.30pm. The last remaining major cable blows up in Mercury Energy's faces. The 1998 Auckland power crisis has begun.

Read more
Air New Zealand stoush highlights pitfalls for coalition government
88681 2018-03-23 06:11:39Z Politics

Air New Zealand stoush highlights pitfalls for coa…

by Jane Patterson

The face-off between the Minister Shane Jones and Air NZ has given voters a peek into the pitfalls that may lie ahead for the coalition government.

Read more
Johann Hari's search to uncover the real causes of depression
88186 2018-03-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Johann Hari's search to uncover the real causes of…

by Louise Chunn

Stalked by depression for 20 years, Johann Hari couldn’t find the pharmaceutical relief doctors promised. He began asking why.

Read more
Are antidepressant pills really effective?
88211 2018-03-23 00:00:00Z Psychology

Are antidepressant pills really effective?

by Marc Wilson

Johann Hari is right about some things, but effective depression treatment means casting a wide net.

Read more
Win a double pass to Dancing with Mozart thanks to the Royal New Zealand Ballet!
88313 2018-03-23 00:00:00Z Win

Win a double pass to Dancing with Mozart thanks to…

by The Listener

Great music inspires great dance, as the Royal New Zealand Ballet brings works by choreographic titans Jiří Kylián and George Balanchine to NZ.

Read more
What to see, eat and do at Pasifika Festival 2018
88671 2018-03-22 15:44:53Z Where to go in Auckland

What to see, eat and do at Pasifika Festival 2018

by Vomle Springford

The largest Pacific Island cultural festival in the world takes place this weekend at Western Springs Park.

Read more
On the misguided crusade to make bike helmets optional
88652 2018-03-22 11:18:12Z Social issues

On the misguided crusade to make bike helmets opti…

by The Listener

At a time when other sports, notably rugby, are prioritising head-injury prevention, easing up on bicycle helmets is perverse.

Read more